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Data Act: Progress Made but Significant Challenges Must Be Addressed

Data Act: Progress Made but Significant Challenges Must Be Addressed to Ensure Full and Effective Implementation, GAO-16-556T: Published: Apr 19, 2016. Publicly Released: Apr 19, 2016.

“The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) have taken some significant steps toward implementing the key provisions of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act); however, several challenges need to be addressed in order to successfully meet the act’s requirements. Data standards and technical schema. GAO reported in January 2016, that OMB and Treasury had issued standardized data element definitions for reporting federal spending, but the lack of key guidance has slowed the ability of agencies to operationalize the data standards. Specifically, OMB and Treasury had not yet released guidance to agencies regarding how some data elements should be reported in order to produce consistent and comparable data. For example, Award Description, defined as a brief description of the purpose of the award, led to different interpretations by agencies. GAO also found that Treasury’s technical guidance continues to evolve and lacks finality which may impede agency implementation. Treasury has issued several iterative versions of the technical schema that describes the standard format for reporting data elements. Each iteration results in revisions to the technical guidance which may adversely affect the timely implementation of the act. A finalized technical schema would provide agencies with a stable base from which to develop data submission plans and processes. According to Treasury officials, final draft guidance has been provided to agencies for comment…”

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