Senate Unanimously Advances DATA Act Compromise

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Senate passed the bipartisan Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) by unanimous consent. This landmark transparency legislation reflects a compromise drafted by the bill sponsors and bipartisan Committee leaders from both chambers. The DATA Act is sponsored by Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) in the Senate and by Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD) in the House. Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) and Ranking Member Tom Coburn (R-OK) also helped broker the bipartisan agreement.

The DATA Act will allow taxpayers and lawmakers to track every dollar spent by federal agencies and more easily identify fraud, waste and abuse in order to create a more efficient government. It expands the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act to require full disclosure of all federal agency expenditures. It also takes steps to simplify financial reporting and improve the quality of spending data.

“Our taxpayers deserve to know how their federal funds are spent—dollar for dollar—and it is the government’s obligation to share that information in a clear and accessible way. Today, the Senate passed this important bipartisan legislation to make sure taxpayers get the transparency they deserve,” Sen. Mark Warner, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee’s Government Performance Task Force said. “The DATA Act will improve the way the federal government does business and it’s a true example of how Washington is supposed to work – across the aisle and on both sides of the Capitol.”

“The American taxpayer deserves to know when, where and how his or her money is spent,” said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and lead sponsor of the DATA Act in the House of Representatives. “Without accurate, timely, program by program spending data, we will never be able to truly track federal spending, which is the only way we can address the massive amount of waste and fraud in government.  I am proud of the bill we are advancing because it lays the foundation for a digital revolution in how we govern. I applaud the Senate’s action today, and I will work with my House colleagues to send this bipartisan, bicameral compromise to the President’s desk.”

“During a time of record $17 trillion debt, our bipartisan bill will help identify and eliminate wasteful spending by better tracking federal spending. I am pleased that our bill to improve federal financial transparency and empower taxpayers to see how their money is spent has passed the Senate, and I urge swift passage in the House of Representatives,”  Sen. Portman said.

“This legislation will make the government more effective and efficient through greater transparency and greater accountability in how agencies spend taxpayer dollars.  The Comptroller General of the United States testified this week that the DATA Act is one of the best things Congress could do to increase transparency in federal spending, and I am pleased we are one step closer to getting this legislation enacted,” Ranking Member Cummings said.

“Government works best when it’s transparent and accessible to everyone. That’s why the DATA Act is such a critical piece of legislation. By increasing the availability, accuracy, and usefulness of federal spending information, we enhance government transparency, improve accountability, and reduce wasteful government spending. This legislation also takes an important step towards the establishment of government-wide financial data standards, which will significantly improve the ability of policymakers and the public to analyze how federal tax dollars are being spent.  I’d like to thank Dr. Coburn and Senators Warner and Portman for their tireless work and leadership on this effort,” Sen. Carper said.

The DATA Act has strong bipartisan support from its cosponsors in the U.S. Senate, including Senators Ayotte (R-NH), Carper (D-DE), Coburn (R-OK), Coons (D-DE), Enzi (R-WY), Johnson (R- WI), McCain (R- AZ), Murray (D-WA) and Whitehouse (D-RI). S.994 is a Senate companion to legislation sponsored by U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD), and cosponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO),  Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX), Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL), Rep. John Campbell (R-CA),  Rep. Michael Honda (D-CA), Rep. Michael Conaway (R-TX), Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL), and Rep. James Renacci (R-OH).

A summary of the DATA Act can be read here, and the legislation can be accessed here