PJMedia has learned that today Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) will introduce a new government openness bill that could revolutionize the way Washington operates and force a new level of federal transparency. If implemented, with a single click of a mouse citizens will be able to access traceable, digital information about how their tax dollars are being spent.
Issa, who is the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, is expected today to introduce the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, or DATA Act. In short, he is seeking to force the government to open up its accounting books to the public. The modernization effort is an unprecedented and ambitious effort.
The new legislation will force the federal government to modernize its digital operations and finally reveal to the public through a single electronic platform its internal spending and external grants, contracts, and loans. It could empower citizens and government watchdog groups to challenge federal spending on wasteful or worthless programs.
Federal spending has always been a mystery to the public and even to Congress. Washington spending is at an all-time high. The Obama administration’s current spending level is a $3.18 trillion for the 2011 fiscal year.
To track these sums, the U.S. government operates two major databases, “USASpending.gov” and “Recovery.gov.” They are regarded as cumbersome, incomplete, disorganized, and intentionally opaque. Tracking the money has been impossible even for Congress, which has oversight authority.
For decades a wide swath of private industry — including banking and exchange trading industries — has provided user-friendly data tracking capabilities. But to date the federal government does not provide accurate and traceable information about how it spends taxpayer dollars.
If enacted, the DATA Act would set up a single tracking agency. It would follow federal spending, including grants, contracts, loans, and agencies’ internal expenses on a single electronic platform. It will use consistent reporting standards and data identifiers, making the information accessible and easily understandable to the public.