Federal transparency bill headed to White House

The House on Monday passed legislation expanding transparency standards so that taxpayers can see how federal funds are spent.

Passed by voice vote, the Digital Accountability and Transparency (DATA) Act would direct federal agencies to establish government-wide financial data standards available on USASpending.gov. The data would include agency expenditures as well as federal contract, loan and grant spending.

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The Senate passed the measure by unanimous consent the week before the recess. It now heads to the White House for President Obama's signature.

The measure also calls for the head of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to establish a two-year pilot program to develop recommendations for federal reporting standards and find ways to avoid duplication in such reporting. It would further instruct the OMB director to review the reporting requirements for recipients of federal funding.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said the measure would help Congress and taxpayers monitor how federal funds are spent.

"The DATA Act is but a first shot of a technological revolution that will transform the way we govern," Issa said. "The American people deserve to know if their taxpayer dollars are being wasted or if they're being spent wisely."

Democrats also said that it would make the workings of the federal government more transparent.

"This will improve the quality of data that agencies make available about their spending," said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).