DATA Act Updates: New OMB Memo and Highlights for the Federal Grant Community

Last week, OMB released the latest memo on the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act)—Additional Guidance for DATA Act Implementation: Implementing a Data-Centric Approach for Reporting Federal Spending Information.

The memo describes the main steps agencies need to take to improve data quality and transparency on where the Federal Government’s award data (i.e., from grants or contracts) should be displayed for the public.

The DATA Act

David Miller, the Controller of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), writes, “The reporting of data in accordance with the data definition standards will enable financial data to be posted on USASpending.gov for use by taxpayers and policy makers in a consistent, reliable, and searchable format.”

Highlights for the Grants Community

Here are some other key takeaways that you might find relevant to your work:

1. Familiarize yourself with the 57 data definition standards issued by OMB and Treasury.

Federal agencies are required to report financial data in accordance with these 57 data definitions beginning May 2017. This means grant recipients will need to know and use these data elements as well.

2. Make sure your organization’s information is accurate in the System for Award Management (SAM) and all grant applications.

“Federal agencies must ensure that the official entity information, specifically the legal business name and the physical address, are identical to SAM at the time of the award and award’s modification.” This means it’s critical that applicants and award recipients keep their SAM profile information accurate and consistent to avoid potential problems.

3. Higher quality, more consistent data is on its way to USAspending.gov as a result of the DATA Act implementation.

“Beginning May 2017 Federal agencies must associate new financial assistance and procurement awards reported to USASpending.gov using the standard for agency codes…Use of this standard will improve data quality, consistency, and transparency across the Federal Government.”

The DATA Act policy and guidance is constantly changing, so please take the time to review this most recent memo.

“Thanks for the update…but what is the ‘DATA Act’?”

While the DATA Act has been out for a couple years, there’s a chance you may not have heard about it. Here’s a high-level timeline to quickly catch you up on the legislation’s implementation, along with links to more detailed resources about the DATA Act.

  1. May 2014Legislation was passed
  2. May 2015 – Initial pilot announced, which includes the key activities that will occur in the DATA Act Section 5 grants pilot program
  3. Ongoing – Feedback collected from the public and federal agencies about the data elements. While the period for comment on the 57 data elements is closed, there are still opportunities to get involved and provide feedback—here’s the DATA Act contact information and ways to get involved
  4. May 2016Version 1.0 of the DATA Act Information Model Schema (DAIMS) finalized
  5. May 2016 – OMB published the aforementioned memo, providing background, new policies, and next steps in implementation

For a more detailed overview of the DATA Act, check out the DATA Act page on USASpending.gov. For the latest updates, follow the HHS DATA Act PMO on Twitter @HHS_DAP. HHS employees may also subscribe to an internal newsletter for updates.

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5 thoughts on “DATA Act Updates: New OMB Memo and Highlights for the Federal Grant Community

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