Without a clear governance structure, the implementation of the DATA Act (the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014) has suffered and new guidance might not be reaching agencies, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released last week.

The DATA Act, passed in 2014, tasks the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Department of the Treasury with establishing government-wide financial data standards to better tie spending to programs.

The report highlighted the move to transition the governance structure for the DATA Act. While OMB initially formed a governance structure for implementing the law, it disbanded much of it in July 2018 and split responsibilities among the CFO Council’s DATA Act Working Group, the Shared Solutions Governance Board (SSGB), and the Business Standards Council (BSC).

OMB noted its intention to include DATA Act implementation in PMA efforts, but GAO pointed to the lack of documented data governance policies and procedures as an issue. GAO also criticized the lack of any DATA Act-specific guidance in PMA efforts.

GAO also criticized OMB’s lack of policy on updating DATA Act implementation.

“In June 2018, OMB staff changed certain data definitions in the publicly accessible website that serves as the official repository for the data definitions. However, OMB does not have a documented procedure for updating or making changes to these definitions,” the report notes. In addition to the lack of policy, GAO called out the lack of public communication from OMB, as required by law, and pointed to Treasury as an example.

GAO recommended that OMB document its procedure for changing data standards, and ensure that past revisions are clearly indicated to the public. OMB did not agree or disagree with the recommendations while providing comment.

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MeriTalk Staff