Oversight Committee approves federal transparency bill

The House Oversight Committee unanimously approved a bill from Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) that would create a single electronic platform that would publish data on all federal spending.

Issa introduced the Digital Accountability and Transparency, or DATA, Act last week, arguing that previous efforts at transparency have been stymied by inaccurate data and a lack of consistent reporting standards.

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Issa's bill would create a new Federal Accountability and Spending Transparency (FAST) Board that would be in charge of mandating data standards and ensuring agencies comply.

At Wednesday's business meeting the committee adopted a number of amendments before passing the bill, including one from Issa that incorporated suggested changes from Democrats and the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, which served as a model for the legislation.

Other amendments adopted would give the Government Accountability Office greater access to agency records and require the FAST Board to prioritize the review of no-bid, sole-source contracts, the use of which President Obama pledged to reduce upon taking office.

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Issa pledged to work with other Democrats on their concerns before the bill heads to the House floor for debate. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) introduced companion legislation in the Senate last week, where the bill is expected to garner similar bipartisan support.

The Oversight Committee subcommittee on Technology will hold a hearing Thursday focused on improving the oversight of federal grant programs. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who co-authored the predecessor to the DATA Act with then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in 2006 that mandated the creation of USASpending.gov, will testify.