Senate Panel Approves Digital Transparency Act

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., was one of the sponsors of the bill.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., was one of the sponsors of the bill. Cliff Owen/AP

The bipartisan bill would make it easier to compare spending across agencies.

This post has been updated to include comment from Sen. Portman. 

The Senate’s Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee passed legislation on Wednesday aimed at making federal spending data more transparent and easier to compare across agencies.

The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act would require agencies to use a uniform coding system for federal spending data so internal auditors and external watchdogs could easily compare how one agency is spending its money versus another.

The bill would also make improvements to the federal spending transparency website and require regular audits by inspectors general on how agencies are complying with the act.

The bill passed the committee on a voice vote with little discussion and will be considered next by the full Senate. It was sponsored by Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

“At a time when the government is running trillion-dollar deficits on top of a record $17 trillion debt, Washington should be doing all it can to track how taxpayer dollars are spent,” Portman said in a statement. “Better visibility and public disclosure of our government’s $3.5 trillion in yearly spending is critical to identifying and eliminating waste.”

A companion bill, sponsored by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., was passed out of the oversight committee in May and is awaiting action on the House floor.

A similar bill passed the full house in 2012 but did not pass the Senate before the close of the last Congress.

Come to Nextgov Prime in Washington Nov. 20-21 to learn how the Recovery Board tackled the transparency challenge and the implications for other agencies under the Data Act. Registration is free for federal employees.