AICPA Supports Data Transparency as DATA Act Makes Progress in House and Senate

November 26, 2013

The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) has recently written letters of support for the data standards provisions included in the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act), H.R. 2061 and S. 944. 

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed its version of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) on November 18, 2013 by a vote of 388-1. 

In his letter to members of Congress urging that the House pass the DATA Act, AICPA President and CEO Barry C. Melancon, CPA, CGMA, stated, “These legislative provisions will allow the Congress, Federal agencies, and the American public to understand, analyze, and communicate where taxpayer dollars are spent across the government leveraging low cost, readily-available tools.  Importantly, the benefits of using data tagging for Federal financial and performance information will enhance the accuracy and transparency of that data, and improve accessibility, which will result in better, more informed decisions.” 

The AICPA is pleased that the benefits of implementing such data standards are receiving Congressional support. 

Speaking on the House floor on Monday evening, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, a California Republican, said “The DATA Act is an important piece of legislation in that it will create the opportunity for government to be more efficient, more effective, and more transparent. The American people deserve real accountability in how the taxpayer dollars are spent, now more than ever. It is unacceptable for Federal spending on data currently to be so inaccurate, unpredictable, inconsistent, and, quite frankly, expensive.”

On November 6, 2013, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee marked up and favorably reported its version of the DATA Act, S. 944, on a unanimous vote.  During that committee meeting, Chairman Tom Carper, a Delaware Democrat, stated, “This important piece of legislation would further all three goals [of enhancing government transparency, improving accountability, and reducing wasteful government spending] by making data on federal spending more readily available to the public and establishing stronger standards for how such spending is reported.” 

Senator Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican and a lead cosponsor of the bill, said, “I’m also grateful to Senator Mark Warner for working with me earlier this year to craft and introduce the DATA Act.  For many, financial transparency may not be the most exciting topic; but it is absolutely critical to helping taxpayers know how their money is spent, eliminating waste and fraud, and finding new opportunities for savings…Our bill makes it easier to compare federal spending across federal agencies by requiring the establishment of government-wide financial data standards.”

The AICPA believes that the DATA Act’s passage by the House and the overwhelming action by the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee sets up potential action by the full Senate in the near future.