DATA Act featured on Majority Leader’s new Citizen Cosponsor platform

[Editor’s note: This post by Hudson Hollister hits on a topic at the intersection of technology, policy and collegial social action, all topics most of our readers seem to care deeply about – bg]

The DATA Act – bipartisan, bicameral legislation introduced last year by Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Mark Warner – is aimed at transforming federal spending through standardization. Without consistent identifiers for awards, grantees, contractors, and programs – and without a standard markup language for millions of reports submitted by hundreds of thousands of grantees, contractors, and agencies – there is no way to apply analytics. Federal agencies and their private-sector partners (and citizens, media, and watchdog groups) have no means of searching the data to find indicators of fraud, to analyze patterns, or to detect waste.

The DATA Act will change that.

The DATA Act mandates consistent identifiers and markup languages for Recovery Act-style recipient reports and for submissions by federal agencies to central budget and spending databases. This information – covering every agency, every program, every grant, every contract, every internal disbursement – will be standardized and available online for anyone to scrutinize, search, and download. Using this new data set –

  • Federal watchdogs will use sophisticated searches to find indicators that a contractor or a grantee might be defrauding taxpayers.
  • Civic organizations will spotlight wasteful spending.
  • Reporters will break stories about crooked politicians.
  • Voters will judge whether government programs are working well or not.
  • Federal agencies will track their programs’ spending and performance over time to inform their management decisions.
  • Congress will have more data to inform decisions about whether to increase or decrease program appropriations.
  • And technology companies will build new apps and invent new, creative ways to display and think about government spending.

In short, the DATA Act will connect Big Government to Big Data.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor gave the DATA Act a boost yesterday by featuring it on his new citizen engagement platform, the Citizen Cosponsor Project.

Over the past few weeks, I have been working to found the Data Transparency Coalition, a new non-profit trade association. The Coalition is being formed to bring together tech companies, the financial industry, and civic organizations to support government data transparency – meaning the publication of federal spending information, regulatory filings, legislative actions, and more, using consistent identifiers and markup languages. Data transparency will bring new efficiencies to federal IT and inaugurate unprecedented transparency. It also represents exciting new opportunities for the tech industry. One of the Coalition’s first projects is to support the DATA Act.

Please become a citizen cosponsor of the DATA Act.

And please forward, retweet, and repeat. Endlessly…

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