After GSA Scandal, Congress Moves to Reduce Wasteful Spending
The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act will strengthen and standardize the government’s reporting standards, and puts all the information online for the American public to see.
When it was revealed that the General Services Administration (GSA) spent $823,000 on a conference in Las Vegas in October 2010, Americans were appalled at the blatant disregard for taxpayer dollars.
I take very seriously my role as trustee of taxpayer funds, and the GSA’s conference was an egregious display of wasteful government spending. GSA employees not only spent a lavish amount on the government dime, but also made videos poking fun at the cost and extravagance.
The responsibility lies with head of the GSA, as well as the president. The White House should be setting a tone of fiscal responsibility throughout all federal agencies that discourages squandering taxpayer dollars. In the meantime, Congress is acting.
The House passed, with my support, the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA) last week. This bill will strengthen and standardize the government’s reporting standards, and puts all the information online for the American public to see.
Part of the problem is that currently, federal spending data is not available in a consistent and complete form. As a result, Inspectors General and auditors, those government actors charged with checking the federal government’s spending, are left in an almost impossible situation. There is too much data, reported differently and inconsistently, to be able to review and analyze how the federal government is spending money.
Additionally, recipients such as states and universities who receive federal funding are forced to spend precious resources — also at the taxpayers’ expense — complying with inconsistent and duplicative reporting requirements.
The DATA Act will also improve the ability of federal auditors and members of Congress to better see where we can cut wasteful spending and save taxpayer dollars. Citizen watchdog groups called this “landmark legislation” that will make government more transparent and accountable.
The DATA Act also streamlines reporting requirements for grant and contract recipients so they can report all federal spending in one place.
It’s the taxpayers who are footing the bill for every dollar in the federal budget, and the American people should know how their money is being spent. With the DATA Act, we can track federal spending and better root out waste, fraud, and abuse.