Federal government’s official spending website missing data

(The Center Square) – The federal government’s official spending website is incomplete, lacking context and sometimes inaccurate.

That’s according to a new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which found issues with USAspending.gov, the official source of federal spending information, which includes information about federal awards such as contracts, grants and loans.

“Quality federal spending data are key for Congress, federal managers, and the American public in tracking taxpayers’ dollars,” according to the report. “As such, it is imperative that they have access to reliable and complete information on federal spending.”

The report found that not all federal agencies report data to USAspending.gov. Almost a third of federal agencies didn’t report any data to the site. Of the 152 agencies that were included in the overall federal government financial statements, 49 didn’t report data to the website.

Transparency advocates said more needs to be done to make federal spending information accurate and accessible to the public.

“The most important function of the federal agencies is to show taxpayers exactly where their money was spent last year,” OpenTheBooks.com founder and CEO Adam Andrzejewski told The Center Square.

“Back in 2006, the bipartisan legislation co-sponsored by Sens. Tom Coburn and Barack Obama, described as the Google Your Government act, codified into law the transparency of the federal checkbook,” Andrzejewski said. “Today, there’s a war on transparency by the Biden administration, who refuses to disclose basic spending to taxpayers.”

The Government Accountability Office report found 25 of the 49 agencies that didn’t report accounted for more than $5 billion of the $6 trillion in government-wide net outlays for fiscal year 2022.

“[Office of Management and Budget] and Treasury did not provide an explanation as to why certain executive branch agencies did not report to USAspending.gov,” according to the report. “Neither Treasury nor OMB have clear responsibility for determining which agencies are subject to DATA Act reporting requirements.”

The report found that Congressional action was needed.

“Until Congress assigns Treasury, in coordination with OMB, the responsibilities to periodically assess and determine which agencies must report data to USAspending.gov and oversee the completeness of their reporting, the website’s data may lack some required spending information,” the authors wrote. “As a result, USAspending.gov will not provide policymakers and the public with transparency over all funds federal agencies spend, as required, including for disasters and emergencies.”

Some of the spending data on USAspending.gov doesn’t match other sources, the report found.

“For example, in its fiscal year 2022 agency financial report, Treasury reported COVID-19 obligations that exceeded the amounts it reported to USAspending.gov and to the budget report by more than $195 billion,” according to the report. “For the Department of Transportation, we found a difference of $10 million.”

By Brett Rowland | The Center Square

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