Issa proposes board to track federal spending

Monday - 6/13/2011, 3:24pm EDT

By Ruben Gomez
Federal News Radio

A new bill would establish a permanent, independent body to track federal spending and increase accountability, according to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

The Digital Accountability and Transparency (DATA) Act would establish the Federal Accountability and Spending Transparency (FAST) Board to monitor grants, contracts, loans and internal agency expenses on "a single electronic platform," the committee wrote in a press release. The FAST Board would make the data available for public scrutiny.

"Americans have the right to know what their government is doing with their money," said committee chairman and bill sponsor Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif) in a statement. "Incompatible technologies, inaccurate data, and a lack of common standards impede transparency."

The FAST Board would become a "permanent successor to the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, the body established by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act to ensure transparency," the committee wrote.

"Today we have 'analog transparency', in the sense that anybody can file endless Freedom of Information Act requests with 100-plus separate federal agencies and receive, maybe, after months, thousands of pages of scanned documents that, if carefully perused, might yield up the same information that ought to be able to be derived with a keystroke," Issa said.

The legislation would also set up a "universal standard of recipient reporting for money received from the federal government directly to an independent database," according to the committee. And it would combine agency spending information with recipient-reported data to "allow agencies, Congress, and citizen watchdogs to discover waste and inefficiency in government and expose systematic financial management problems that lead to improper payments."

The news came on the same day the administration announced separate plans to root out waste and boost performance.

Click here to read a summary of Issa's bill.

Check out other bills affecting agencies.