Warner introduces transparency bill

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) introduced a Senate version of a transparency bill on Thursday that would create a single electronic platform to track all federal spending.

The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) would establish an independent body to track all federal spending. The new board would be in charge of creating data reporting standards that all agencies would have to follow while submitting data on all grants, contracts, loans and other outlays.

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“Standardizing the way this information is reported, and then centralizing the way it’s publicly disclosed, will make it a lot easier to identify needless duplication and inefficiency and help us spot and prevent waste and fraud,” Warner said in a statement.

“This legislation is an example of how Washington is supposed to work."

The legislation appears identical to a bill introduced Monday by House Oversight chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) of the same name. Issa previously indicated there is bipartisan support on the Hill and in the White House for transparency legislation; he applauded Warner on Thursday for joining his effort.

"The bureaucratic and programmatic barriers to a transparent and accountable government were not created by one party or by one chamber of Congress. Creating the transparent and accountable government the American people deserve will require bipartisan and bicameral teamwork," Issa said.

"I look forward to working closely with Senator Warner to pass the DATA Act and establish – for the first time – a comprehensive federal spending transparency system.”

The bill would not be the first time Congress has tried to force agencies to publish their spending data online, as a 2006 law sponsored by then-Sen. Obama and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) also mandated that agencies publish contract and grant data online via USASpending.gov.

Warner said the new platform would incorporate the best aspects of USASpending and the stimulus-tracking site Recovery.gov. Both Issa and Warner cited the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board that oversaw the stimulus for fraud and waste as the model for their new endeavor.