The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act) required the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to review a sample of DHS’ Fiscal Year 2017, 2nd quarter spending data posted on USASpending.gov and to submit to Congress a report assessing the data’s completeness, timeliness, quality, and accuracy, as well as DHS’ implementation and use of government-wide financial data standards.
The OIG found that DHS could not align nearly $1.9 billion, or 38 percent, of award transactions for the quarter. DHS countered that it could reconcile about $1 billion of the misalignments to within $10 per transaction over a four-month timeframe.
The OIG also found that nearly 64 percent of the 385 FY 2017/Q2 procurement and financial award transactions contained inaccurate data — representing approximately $1.7 million in DHS’ total obligations for the quarter.
The OIG made six recommendations:
- Strengthen DHS’ internal controls to reconcile misalignments among its spending data files and verify which data errors are due to legitimate timing issues.
- Verify finalization of National Protection and Programs Directorate’s DATA Act validation procedures.
- Develop a quarterly performance metric that measures the number and total value of misaligned transactions that cannot be traced to award files.
- Develop and apply an effective solution to correctly assign program activity names and codes to ensure complete File B data.
- Develop a control process that ensures all changes made to data fields are appropriately approved and logged.
- Incorporate DATA Act-specific controls into existing OMB Circular A-123 processes at the departmental and component levels.
DHS disagreed with one of the OIG’s recommendations and cited its clean audit opinions and recognition by Treasury for its outstanding DATA Act reporting.
The DATA Act was signed by President Obama to make information on federal expenditures more easily accessible and transparent to the public. The DATA Act amends the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (FFATA) to require the disclosure of direct federal agency expenditures and information linking spending activity to federal programs to enable more effective tracking of government spending. The Department of the Treasury and the Office of Management and Budget are the agencies responsible for leading government-wide implementation of the DATA Act.
Under FFATA, federal agencies must post their financial assistance and contract data on USASpending.gov. The DATA Act expands FFATA by requiring agencies to quarterly submit their appropriations account summary-level financial (i.e., spending) data to Treasury for publication on USASpending.gov beginning with the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2017. By May 8, 2017, each agency had to report its FY17/Q2 obligations and expenditures by appropriation, program activity, award, and object class. Each agency also had to ensure that this new data linked to the award data already posted to USASpending.gov under FFATA using unique award identification numbers.