updated April 2014





What is the DATA Act?


The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, or DATA Act, which was passed by the U.S. Senate on April 10, 2014, will transform the U.S. government's spending information from inaccessible documents into open data. Final passate by the House of Representatives is expected in late April or early May. The DATA Act's lead sponsors are Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH).


We'll explore the impact of the DATA Act at the Data Transparency Summit on April 29, 2014, in Washington.


The legislation will standardize and publish the U.S. government's wide variety of reports and data compilations related to financial management, procurement, and assistance. Better transparency, more effective federal management, and cheaper compliance will be the results. Under the DATA Act:


o   Watchdogs and the public will be able to track taxpayer dollars from Congressional appropriation, through agency obligation and expenditure, and all the way to their ultimate disposition by grantees, contractors, and their sub-awardees.


o   Inspectors general and program managers will be able to deploy analytics to find waste and fraud.


o   Submissions from agencies and recipients will be cross-checked against each other for accuracy.


o   Agencies, grantees, and contractors will be able to automate time-consuming reporting processes.


o   Tech entrepreneurs will build new businesses offering compliance automation, republication, Big Data analytics, and cheaper infrastructure for spending data and reports.





What will be the results of the DATA Act?


By replacing inaccessible documents with standardized, searchable data--freely accessible to all--the DATA Act will create better transparency for taxpayers and citizens; improve federal management by illuminating waste and fraud; and reduce compliance costs by automating the creation of reports by grantees and contractors.


The Data Transparency Coalition's members are ready to help citizens, government managers, and recipients of federal funds accomplish all three results.


o   Better transparency. Once federal financial statements, budget actions, grant reports, and contract reports are available as open data, rather than trapped in inaccessible documents, tech companies will be able to make the data fully searchable for citizens, taxpayers, and companies.


o   More effective federal management. Government-wide data standards for spending will allow Big Data analytics to illuminate waste and fraud. Coaltion members showed how at the DATA Demo Day on Capitol Hill in May 2013.


Automated compliance. When federal agencies begin collecting grant and contract reports as standardized data instead of as documents, solutions like Parrascope and AmpliFund will help grantees and contractors comply with existing reporting requirements more cheaply than they can today.



DATA Act Summary



Current publication

Under DATA Act



Grants and contracts are published on

Same, with moved to Treasury Department.



Prime recipients must report sub-awards for publication on, but the requirement is not enforced.

The sub-award reporting requirement will be enforced.

Complete data on sub-awards will be available.

Budget actions

Reports summarizing each agency’s obligations, outlays, and transfers are published on OMB’s website, but are not connected to data on

Budget actions will be published on, categorized by agency, component, appropriation, program, and object class.

Data on internal spending, program by program, will become available for the first time. In addition, existing data on grants and contracts will be linked to related budget action data.


Checkbook-level data on federal payments is not published anywhere.

Checkbook-level payments data from the Treasury Department will be published on, with security and privacy exceptions.

Checkbook-level payments, for both internal spending and external grants and contracts, will be available for the first time. Payments will be linked to the related expenditures and awards so that it is possible to see each payment from a particular program, grant, or contract.


Current data standards

Under DATA Act



The proprietary DUNS number identifies some recipients, but there are no common identifiers for awards, agencies, programs, etc.

Treasury will set government-wide data elements for recipients, awards, agencies, programs, and other items.

Aggregations by recipient, award, agency, program, account, program, award, recipient, account, etc., will become possible for the first time.


Awards data is reported in PDF and summarized in XML. Budget actions are reported in PDF and Excel. Each agency uses its own format for reports by recipients.

Treasury will set government-wide structured data formats for reports on awards, budget actions, payments, and financials.

Federal spending will become fully interoperable.













































DATA Act Resources


Posts tagged 'DATA Act' on Data Transparency Coalition blog, 2012-14

Coalition announcement on Senate passage of the DATA Act, April 10, 2014


Joint op-ed by DATA Act sponsors, Reps. Darrell Issa and Elijah Cummings and Sens. Mark Warner and Rob Portman, The Hill, Dec. 16, 2013


Coalition announcement on House passage of the DATA Act, Nov. 18, 2013


Coalition announcement on unanimous Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passage of the DATA Act, Nov. 6, 2013


White paper (PDF) by Coalition member StreamLink Software on how the DATA Act will transform grant reporting, November 2013


DATA Act resources at House Oversight Committee, May 2013


Coalition announcement on unanimous House Oversight Committee passage of the DATA Act, May 22, 2013


Coalition announcement on DATA Act re-introduction, May 21, 2013


Announcement by Sen. Mark Warner on DATA Act re-introduction, May 21, 2013


DATA Demo Day, May 16, 2013


DATA Act discussion draft, posted by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on the Open Gov Foundation's Madison project, May 14, 2013


Op-ed by Rep. Darrell Issa, winter 2013


Coalition applauds DATA Act re-introduction, Sept. 25, 2012


Announcement by Sen. Mark Warner on DATA Act re-introduction, Sept. 21, 2012


Coalition white paper on DATA Act, prepared for annual meeting of American Bar Association Section of Public Contract Law, July 2012


DATA Demo Day, July 10, 2012


DATA Act on Majority Leader's Citizen CoSponsor Platform, March 2012


DATA Act resorces at House Oversight Committee, March 2012


DATA Act on