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TechTalk Blog: Draft Data Exchange Standard for the DATA Act Has Been Published

By David Colgren posted 04-09-2015 12:52 PM



Information on the data exchange standard required by the DATA Act has been published to provide technical glimpse into implementation.

On May 9, 2014, President Obama signed into law the DATA Act. The DATA Act was passed unanimously by Congress (which included Senator Menendez's affirmative vote).  The DATA Act addresses the growing crisis of US government transparency and accountability by requiring actions that would help make spending data shareable and comparable across various government programs, allowing executive branch agencies and Congress to accurately measure the costs and performance of federal budgets and investments for better government.

The passage of the DATA Act follows other efforts by the federal government to make open, freely available structured data available to citizens, companies and other important stakeholders in XBRL’s computer-readable format for improved discovery and enhanced analysis.

Freely available data from the US Government is an important national resource driving economic growth through reliable information for discovery and entrepreneurship. Federal agencies need to continue to make progress on this effort to achieve transparency and an information linkage between agencies, especially as it relates to financial and accounting data. This will help to unlock and improve valuable data sets from government stores and make them available to the public and the private sector. This is really part of a global move by governments to make government information available to the public through “open data” initiatives.

The DATA Act directs the Secretary of the Treasury (not later than three years after the enactment of this Act) to ensure that information on funds made available to or expended by a federal agency is posted online, in a searchable, downloadable format under this open data initiative that can be used by the public and other important stakeholders.

US Treasury and OMB will be making an announcement in May 2015 regarding the new data standard(s) that will be used by federal government agencies to fulfill the DATA Act requirements. Following this announcement, government agencies have two years within which to start reporting their financial, payment, budget, grant and contract information using the approved data standard(s) from Treasury and OMB. There is strong optimism within the XBRL community that the first step to transparency and accountable in federal government financial reporting will be the utilization of the XBRL data (or similar XML format) standard by US Treasury and OMA. Stay tuned. 


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