OIGs Reported That Quality of Agency-Submitted Data Varied, and Most Recommended Improvements

The DATA Act seeks to improve oversight of federal spending. The act requires each Office of Inspector General (OIG) at federal agencies to issue reports on the quality of agency spending data. The OIGs determine quality based on the rate of data errors.

The Government Accountability Office review of 51 federal agencies’ reports found:

  • 37 OIGs reported that agency data submissions for the first quarter of FY 2019 had an error rate of less than 20%, but 10 of those submissions were missing data
  • 37 OIGs reported that agencies correctly used data standards
  • 44 OIGs made recommendations to improve data quality at the agencies.

Further, 47 OIGs reported that their agencies submitted data on time, but certain agencies’ submissions did not always contain all the data that should have been submitted. For example, 14 of these OIGs reported that certain agency components’ or systems’ data were missing.

Thirty-seven OIGs reported that agencies properly implemented and used the data standards established by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Department of the Treasury (Treasury). However, 47 OIGs reported control deficiencies related to system limitations, quality control procedures, data from external systems, and other issues. Further, 44 OIGs made recommendations for agencies to help improve data quality, including recommendations to

  • establish and implement data quality procedures or guidance and implement needed corrective actions;
  • develop controls to resolve issues during the submission process;
  • develop controls over the review and correction of data derived from source systems;
  • work with Treasury, OMB, or other external stakeholders to resolve identified issues; and
  • develop, implement, or evaluate automated systems controls

GAO is not making recommendations in this report. The Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency noted that GAO’s report provides useful information on OIG efforts to meet oversight and reporting responsibilities under the DATA Act.

Read the GAO report

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