Understanding how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars is a daunting task. In fiscal year 2013 alone, the federal government spent $3.5 trillion. In May, Congress unanimously passed and the President signed the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA), which increases accountability and transparency of federal spending. The act requires several changes that will shed more light on how federal dollars are used. Accountability and transparency of federal spending is important to:
- Understand the cost of federal programs, who they are serving, and where funds are going. In an April hearing on overlap and duplication of federal programs, the Comptroller General testified on the importance of standardizing spending data so information could be compared across federal agencies.
- Identify potential fraud, waste, or abuse of federal funds. The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board uses spending data to do just that. Specifically, the Recovery Board uses advanced data analysis techniques to identify potential fraud and errors before and after payments are made. In January 2013, we co-hosted a forum alongside the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board and the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency to explore using data analytics to help identify fraud, waste, and abuse in government. To address these and other issues related to coordination and data sharing, we formed the Government Data Sharing Community of Practice.