WASHINGTON– At a congressional hearing today Earl Devaney, chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, praised H.R. 2146, the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA). The DATA Act will establish an independent body to track federal spending, including grants, contracts, loans and agencies’ internal expenses, on a single electronic platform, using consistent reporting standards and data identifiers, and making all of the information available to the public.
Devaney has been tapped by the White House to lead its effort to develop a plan similar to the Act, introduced by Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., on Monday.
In a hearing reaction video posted on the Committee’s YouTube channel, Devaney expressed support for the legislation, saying it was “very comprehensive, and I think it will achieve the things we are talking about today in terms of lessons learned” from his experience leading the Recovery Board.
At the hearing, Devaney further commended the legislative effort: “I think that nothing works better than legislation, with very firms dates in it. I really truly believe that. That’s an observation not just from my time at the Recovery Board, but throughout my federal career,” said the former Department of the Interior Inspector General. “I’ve seen bureaucrats change their minds about change and agree to do it when legislation has been put into place,” Devaney said.
He also noted that the cost of transition would be less than the cost of supporting, in perpetuity, the labyrinth of spending accountability systems that currently exist. Devaney referenced a map put together by his office (click here to view).
“If we take that map and we reduce it to a reasonable picture with one platform, it would strike me that we could do it a lot cheaper,” Devaney said.
Devaney stressed that the any permanent board should be independent: “I would be very careful about it being captured by any particular interest group.” The Sunlight Foundation’s Ellen Miller, who testified on a panel after Devaney, said that having a spending transparency board that wasn’t independent would be a “waste of time.”