A cornerstone of the President’s Accountable Government Initiative and Open Government Initiative is the belief that transparency leads to more oversight, less waste, and more accountability, resulting in a more effective government. For too long, many government resources have been difficult to navigate or inaccessible.
This fall, we have taken another important step toward making government more open and accountable to the American people with a major addition to the type of data available on USASpending.gov.
For the first time on USAspending.gov, you will be able to track payments made by federal agencies not only to direct recipients, but also those made by those recipients to other entities – such as by a prime contractor to a sub-contractor. Leveraging the lessons learned from previous transparency efforts, such as those associated with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, we have worked hard with stakeholders to reduce the burden of reporting, while ensuring that the information provided to the public is useful.
This was not an easy task.
The prior Administration made little headway on this issue, so the team at OMB already was running behind the schedule for implementation set by the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (Transparency Act). In addition, they needed to change regulations and reporting guidance; develop, test, and deploy a new IT solution to capture data; and undertake extensive outreach to contractors and grantees so that they would be ready for the change.
Last month, sub-award information on contracts began to appear on USAspending.gov for the first time. And beginning last week, USAspending.gov is displaying sub-award information associated with new prime grant awards (made on or after October 1, 2010) over $25,000. So far this week, we reported 930 sub-awards, related to a variety of grants in areas such as health, food and nutrition, and transportation. In total, these 930 sub-awards account for $750 million in Federal funding. We expect this number to increase significantly over-time, but it represents a critical milestone in our efforts providing the public with unprecedented transparency into how and where tax dollars are spent.
Improving the data available on USAspending.gov is part of a larger effort to use transparency to boost government accountability. Already, we launched the IT Dashboard to provide the American people with unfiltered access to Federal technology spending information and progress made on IT projects across the government. And earlier this year, we stood up PaymentAccuracy.gov which allows the public to track progress in preventing improper payments.
Jack Lew is the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.