Achieving Transparency And Accountability In Federal Spending

Witness and Testimony Documents
Chairman
Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board
Controller
State of Nevada
Co-Founder and Executive Director
Sunlight Foundation
President
Rivet Software
Director Federal Fiscal Policy
OMB Watch
June 14, 2011,

Chairman Darrell Issa Hearing Preview Statement

Tuesday's hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, entitled "Achieving Transparency and Accountability in Federal Spending," furthers the committee's mission to deliver the facts to the American people and bring genuine reform to the federal bureaucracy.

Despite the availability of technology to track federal spending and program performance, the existing platforms utilized by government agencies do not facilitate an accurate, accessible reporting of information to taxpayers. In fact, USASpending.gov, the site required by law under the authority of the Office of Management and Budget, was only 35 percent accurate in fiscal year 2009. Moreover, the multiple and incongruent formats of various federal spending databases make comparison and analysis almost impossible, even to those with advanced degrees in accounting. There is a better way.

While the committee continues to have concerns about the effectiveness and prudence of President Obama's trillion-dollar stimulus, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board has provided a commendable model of transparency. In the last two years, the American people have seen that reporting by grant, loan, and contract recipients is truer and timelier than the out-of-date model of agency reporting. In fact, the errors that have been discovered in the data at Recovery.gov are due, in large part, to flawed information sent by federal agencies. Nevertheless, the tremendous success of the RAT Board is worthy of replication throughout the federal bureaucracy.

The committee will consider reforms needed to bring an unprecedented level of openness and transparency to federal spending. Furthermore, the committee will evaluate the promise that data standardization offers for greater accountability to taxpayers. Critical to the committee's assessment will be the testimony of Chairman Earl Devaney of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, as well as private sector advocates for transparency through technology.