The Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a new report that Federal agency offices of inspector general (OIGs) are finding uneven results in their reviews of how well those agencies are complying with obligations to report spending data under the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act).

The DATA Act aims to increase accountability and transparency of Federal spending, and the law requires Federal agency OIGs to issue a series of reports that evaluates the completeness, timeliness, quality, and accuracy of each agency’s spending data, and its implementation and use of applicable data standards.  The law further requires GAO to review the OIG reports and report on them.

GAO’s latest review of the OIG reports uncovered the following, as of Dec. 31, 2021:

  • 45 OIGs reported the overall quality of data that agencies submitted was of “excellent” or “higher” quality;
  • 45 OIGs reported correctly used data standards;
  • 37 OIGs reported that agencies had accuracy errors in monetary data; and
  • 44 OIGs made recommendations to improve data quality at the agencies.

“Based on the OIGs’ statistical tests results, agencies’ financial and award data were more complete than they were accurate or timely,” said GAO. “Based on the non-statistical test results, most OIGs reported their agencies submitted data on time, but many reported issues with linking financial and award data.”

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Further, some of the OIGs reported completeness issues with agencies’ summary-level data and with the completeness, accuracy, and timeliness of COVID-19 outlay data. Additionally, 37 reported their agencies had accuracy errors in monetary data elements, and 41 reported that some accuracy errors were not within their agencies’ control.

While GAO did not make any new recommendations in its latest report, the watchdog agency did note its recommendation to Congress earlier this year that it consider amending the DATA Act to “extend the requirement for OIGs to review the completeness, timeliness, quality, and accuracy of their agencies’ data submissions periodically.”

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.