About the Data Transparency Program
The laws governing our work on USAspending.gov
Our work on USASpending.gov comes from two laws:
Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (FFATA)
On September 26, 2006, FFATA was signed into law. The legislation required that federal contract, grant, loan, and other financial assistance awards be displayed on a publicly accessible and searchable website to give the American public access to information on how their tax dollars are being spent.
Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act)
On May 9, 2014, DATA Act was signed into law creating the purpose of the DATA Act Team. The legislation expanded FFATA to:
- include all direct agency spending and link federal contract, grant, and loan spending to specific agency programs,
- set government-wide standards for financial data so we can accurately show consistent, reliable, and searchable data,
- simplify reporting, streamline requirements for reporting, and reduce the cost of complying with the requirements, while improving transparency, and
- improve the quality of the data at USAspending.gov by holding agencies accountable.
The work we have done
We have worked collaboratively with the federal community and external stakeholders to achieve the goals of the DATA Act. The results of our efforts are visible through the DATA Act Information Model Schema (DAIMS) and USAspending.gov.
DATA Act Information Model Schema (DAIMS)
Many programs in the federal government have the same types of data about contracts, grants, loans, and so on. But they weren't all defining their data elements in the same way. That made it hard to share or compare data across agencies and programs.
Therefore, we had to develop government-wide standard definitions and requirements for data elements. To get to standard definitions for data elements, we:
- worked with people both within and outside the government in our "collaboration space",
- helped the community within that collaboration space propose standards (white papers) for core data elements and definitions, and
- sent the results of our collaboration to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) where OMB created the finalized definitions and data standards.
All of this led to the foundation from which the DATA Act Information Model Schema (DAIMS) was first designed and developed. DAIMS is used by federal agencies to submit financial data in standard formats.
While we were working on getting standards for the data, we were also improving how to show the data. We did this through research, design, and testing using best practices for involving users and making sure the site works well for people: user-centered design with personas and agile development.
USAspending.gov is the official website of the DATA Act. The website lets everyone see how the U.S. government spends money. You can follow the money from the Congressional appropriations to the federal agencies and down to local communities and businesses. The website improves access to and use of federal financial data in order to strengthen government-wide decision-making, transparency, and accountability.
The work we continue to do
Through its Office of Data Transparency, the Bureau of the Fiscal Service (Fiscal Service) delivers on Treasury’s strategic goal to increase access to and use of federal financial data in order to strengthen government-wide decision-making and accountability through data transparency.
This work seeks to give the public and federal agencies access to a greater range of financial data. The Office of Data Transparency works to improve the value, quality, and availability of federal financial data.
Fiscal Service’s data transparency work builds upon and uses successes and lessons learned from the DATA Act. We continue to expand DAIMS, look for opportunities to improves data quality, enhance the usability of USAspending.gov, and look for new ways to draw value and insights from federal spending data.
The Data Lab promotes transparency of government spending and makes spending data available to everyday citizens. By using a storytelling approach and data visualizations, site visitors can dig into federal spending data across a variety of topics including homelessness analysis, competition in federal contracting, and many more.