H.R. 4887 requires the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the federal department that issues the most federal grant awards to establish government-wide data standards for information reported by grant recipients, issue guidance directing federal agencies to apply those standards, and require the publication of recipient-reported data collected from all agencies on a single public website. Specifically, the legislation,
- Requires the creation of a comprehensive and standardized data structure, or “taxonomy”, covering all data elements reported by recipients of federal awards, including both grant and cooperative agreements.
- Issues guidance to grantmaking agencies on how to leverage new technologies and implement the new data standards into existing reporting practices with minimum disruption.
- Amends the Single Audit Act to provide for grantee audits to be reported in an electronic format consistent with the data standards.
- Provides exceptions and restrictions by requiring each grantmaking agency to begin collecting grant reports using the new data standards within three years.
- Ensures that no data outside the scope of grant reporting will be collected and that personally-identifiable or otherwise sensitive information will not be published.
The U.S. government awards more than $600 billion every year to state and local governments, agencies, as well as other organizations. The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA) of 2014 required OMB and the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a pilot program to alleviate reporting burdens for grant recipients. Currently, the Department of Health and Human Services issues the most federal grant awards.
The pilot found that grant recipients often have to enter identical data multiple times, and there is no single location where all the data can be found. This redundancy is burdensome for the grant recipient and for those conducting oversight of federal awards. In fiscal year 2017, the federal government awarded over $660 billion in grants. Congress has a fiscal responsibility to review this spending, but without standardized data, it is a difficult endeavor.