White House Tries to Neuter Spending Transparency Bill

OMB attempts to water down bill to create uniform standards for fed spending data


The White House Office of Management and Budget is trying to water down a bill to consolidate and improve transparency in federal spending, leaked documents show.

Federal News Radio first obtained a document from OMB with its proposed revisions to the Digital Accountability and Transparency (DATA) Act. The legislation aims to create uniform standards for federal spending data and online accessibility for that data.

Critics say OMB’s revisions would remove certain requirements for uniform formats and give more power to OMB and the Treasury Department to review and revise the project.

The legislation’s bipartisan sponsors, Sen. Mark Warner (D., Va.) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), rejected the revisions.

"The Obama administration talks a lot about transparency, but these comments reflect a clear attempt to gut the DATA Act," Warner said, in a statement to Federal News Radio. "DATA reflects years of bipartisan, bicameral work, and to propose substantial, unproductive changes this late in the game is unacceptable … I will not back down from a bill that holds the government accountable and provides taxpayers the transparency they deserve."

The Data Transparency Coalition, a group of private and non-profit groups backing the bill, immediately condemned the revisions, saying they would gut the core purpose the legislation.

"If these revisions are ultimately made to the bill, our Coalition will withdraw its support and will call on other advocates of open government data to do the same," Data Transparency Coalition Executive Director Hudson Hollister wrote.

In a statement to the Free Beacon, the OMB said it is dedicated to transparency.

"The Administration believes data transparency is a critical element to good government, and we share the goal of advancing transparency and accountability of Federal spending," an OMB spokesman wrote in an email. "We will continue to work with Congress and other stakeholders to identify the most effective and efficient use of taxpayer dollars to accomplish this goal."

An earlier version of the DATA Act passed the House unanimously in 2012 and again in 2013 by a vote of 388 to 1. A Senate version of the bill moved out of committee in November 2013, but has yet to reach the floor.

CJ Ciaramella   Email CJ | Full Bio | RSS
CJ Ciaramella is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. Prior to joining the Beacon, he was a reporter for the Daily Caller. He was also a Collegiate Network year-long fellow at the San Diego Union-Tribune and has written articles for the Weekly Standard and Oregon Quarterly. Ciaramella attended the University of Oregon, where he edited the award-winning student magazine, the Oregon Commentator. He lives in Washington, D.C. His Twitter handle is @cjciaramella. His email address is ciaramella@freebeacon.com.

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