DATA Act broker system close to launch

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Agencies behind the implementation of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act requirements are piloting a broker program to better validate and aggregate agencies’ spending data, a new Government Accountability Office report details.

The algorithm-based broker, created by the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of the Treasury, aims to check that data reported by agencies is standardized, as is required under with the DATA Act, and ensure they are accurate. 

The system is currently in beta testing, but Treasury plans to release a full production broker this fall, according to GAO.

“The broker’s chief function… is to pull data from a bunch of different sources,” a GAO spokesperson told FedScoop.

Then, “the broker will apply a series of format and formula checks to the budget and financial data elements submitted by the agencies to ensure that the data are in the required standard format and correctly calculated,” according to the report. “The broker will also validate these budget and financial data, which include data elements such as appropriation account, object class, outlay, and program activity, by comparing the data to multiple sources.”

Agencies are required by the law to submit standardized financial, budget, payment, grant and contract data so it is interoperable on USAspending.gov. Prior to the DATA Act, agencies were already reporting some information to the Treasury Department and OMB, but only expenditures, and it was not presented in standard terms.

[Read more: The delicate, deliberate delivery of the DATA Act]

The broker program, which is hosted on a cloud platform, exports all the information in American dollars and includes standardized forms for the information entry.

The system must be in place by May 2017, the DATA Act’s deadline for implementation.

The report was based on interviews with leaders at the OMB and several demonstrations of the broker prototype. While the GAO did not make recommendations, the report serves as the latest analysis in the GAO’s commitment to review all the steps taken to implement the DATA Act and provide open data on the country’s annual budget. 

Another report is expected later this year, according to GAO.

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