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DOT’s DATA Act Readiness: The Department Is on Schedule to Meet the May 2017 Reporting Deadline

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In 2014, Congress passed the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) to reinforce Federal agencies’ compliance with the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (FFATA) which requires departments to maintain transparent and reliable information on Federal spending and financial assistance for public review. The Department of the Treasury (Treasury) makes this information available to the public at The DATA Act also requires that Federal inspectors general issue three reports assessing the data their agencies submit to, with the first report due to Congress by November 7, 2016. However, because the act does not require agencies to submit spending data to until May 8, 2017, inspectors general cannot complete their first reports by November 7, 2016 because the data are not available to test. Consequently, the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) proposed that as an alternative, inspectors general conduct reviews of their agencies’ readiness for DATA Act implementation. Accordingly, we assessed (1) DOT’s DATA Act Implementation Plan, and (2) the progress of its implementation efforts through August 2016.

In accordance with implementation guidance from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Treasury, the Department has conducted activities in support of its readiness to meet the May 2017 reporting deadline. The Department created a department-wide DATA Act Working Group comprised of representatives from the Office of the Secretary (OST), all DOT Operating Administrations, and the Enterprise Services Center (ESC). The DATA Act Project Management Office (PMO) is responsible for implementation oversight. The PMO has developed an implementation plan and implemented controls to monitor the OAs and ensure they meet established target dates. Additionally, ESC created an internal DATA Act team of ESC personnel. ESC’s DATA Act team has been communicating and collaborating with Treasury, the DOT DATA Act working group, and other Federal agency customers. ESC developed its own comprehensive DATA Act implementation plan with input from DOT and other Federal agency customers. ESC’s implementation effort will occur in 2 phases: (1) development of the implementation plan and (2) enhancement of DATA Act reporting.

The Department is making progress on its implementation and meeting its timeframes. The most significant challenge it has encountered is a software developer’s delay in issuing key software patches. These patches are crucial to the Department’s ability to meet the May 2017 reporting deadline. The first patch was due to be released in August 2016, but was not released until September 2016. The Department has to test each released patch and install each patch that tests successfully. Further delays in releasing of the remaining three patches could jeopardize the Department’s ability to meet the May 2017 reporting deadline. However, ESC officials communicated that if the patches do not work, they will be able to develop a workaround to ensure the Department can meet the May 2017 reporting deadline.

Because this report is primarily for informational purposes for Congress, we are not making recommendations.