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Highlights

The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (FFATA) is intended to increase the transparency of and accountability for the over $1 trillion that federal agencies award each year in contracts, loans, grants, and other awards. Among other things, the act required the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to establish, no later than January 1, 2008, a publicly accessible Web site containing data on federal awards. The act also authorized OMB to issue guidance to federal agencies on reporting award data and instructs agencies to comply with that guidance. OMB launched the site (www.USAspending.gov) in December 2007. GAO's objectives were to determine the extent to which (1) OMB is complying with FFATA requirements to make federal award data available, (2) federal agencies are reporting required award data, and (3) inconsistencies exist between data on the Web site and records at federal agencies. To do this, GAO reviewed FFATA requirements and OMB guidance, interviewed OMB and agency officials, and examined a sample of awards reported to OMB.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Office of Management and Budget 1. To improve the accuracy, completeness, and timeliness of all data submissions to OMB's USAspending.gov Web site, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget should develop and implement a specific plan for the collection and reporting of subaward data, including a time frame for including subaward data on USAspending.gov.
Closed - Implemented
The Federal Funding and Accountability Act of 2006 directed the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to establish a free, publically available website containing data on federal awards (e.g., contracts, loans, and grants) no later than January 1, 2008; as well as data on subawards by January 1, 2009. The act also authorized OMB to issue guidance and instructions to federal agencies for reporting award information and required agencies to comply with that guidance. In March 2010, we reported that subaward data was not included on the USAspending.gov website, and OMB did not have a specific plan in place for collecting and reporting such data. Accordingly, we recommended that the Director of the Office of Management and Budget develop and implement a specific plan for the collection and reporting of subaward data, including a time frame for including subaward data on USAspending.gov. In response to our recommendation, and to further the goals of the act, in August 2010, OMB issued the "Open Government Directive, Federal Spending Transparency and Subaward and Compensation Data Reporting" memorandum. This memorandum outlined the requirements for federal agencies and prime contractors, grant and cooperative agreement awardees to report subaward data beginning October 1, 2010. It also established subawards excluded from reporting requirements, including those falling below the award amount threshold, awards made to individuals, or those containing classified information. In addition, the memorandum directed agencies to leverage existing systems and platforms for reporting subaward data in order to minimize the burden of reporting requirements. By requiring the collection and reporting of subaward data, OMB has taken key steps to increasing the transparency and accountability of federal government expenditures.
Office of Management and Budget 2. To improve the accuracy, completeness, and timeliness of all data submissions to OMB's USAspending.gov Web site, the Director of OMB should develop and implement a process to regularly ensure that all federal agencies report required award information to USAspending.gov.
Closed - Implemented
The Federal Funding and Accountability Act of 2006 directed the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to establish a free, publicly accessible website containing data on federal awards (e.g., contracts, loans, and grants) no later than January 1, 2008. In March 2010, we reported on the extent federal agencies were reporting required award data. In particular, we found that while USAspending.gov contained required fiscal year 2008 data on grants from 29 agencies, 9 agencies did not report a total of 15 awards as required. Furthermore, OMB had not implemented a process for identifying nonreporting agencies, and instead relied on voluntary agency compliance with its guidance to ensure complete reporting. Accordingly, we recommended that the Director of the Office of Management and Budget develop and implement a process to regularly ensure that all federal agencies report required award information to USAspending.gov. In response, OMB issued a memorandum in June 2013 requiring agencies to put in place internal controls to ensure the accuracy and completeness of USASpending data. Specifically, by November 15, 2014, each agency is to compare is spending data to data from either its financial system or another well-recognized, published data source, such as OMB's monthly Report on Budget Execution and Budgetary Resources. By implementing the requirements under this memorandum, agencies will be better able to ensure that complete, accurate, and timely federal spending information is available to the public.
Office of Management and Budget 3. To improve the accuracy, completeness, and timeliness of all data submissions to OMB's USAspending.gov Web site, the Director of OMB should revise guidance to federal agencies on reporting federal awards to clarify (1) the requirement that award titles describe the award's purpose; and (2) requirements for validating and documenting agency award data submitted by federal agencies.
Closed - Not Implemented
Provisions of the recently enacted Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2013 could address this recommendation, but implementation will not take place for several years.
Office of Management and Budget 4. To improve the accuracy, completeness, and timeliness of all data submissions to OMB's USAspending.gov Web site, the Director of OMB should include information on the city where work is performed in OMB's public reporting of the completeness of agency data submissions.
Closed - Not Implemented
OMB no longer uses the reporting mechanism discussed in the recommendation.

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