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United States

Spending Transparency (US0084)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: United States Action Plan 2015-2017

Action Plan Cycle: 2015

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: The Administration

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

E-Government, Fiscal Transparency, Open Data

IRM Review

IRM Report: United States End-of-Term IRM Report 2015-2017, United States Mid-Term Report 2015-2017

Starred: No

Early Results: Major Major

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Civic Participation , Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

The Administration continues to look for new ways to increase transparency in Federal spending. In 2015, the
Budget of the U.S. Government was made available in an open-source format for the first time, allowing the
public to explore it in new and creative ways. In addition, the Administration finalized data standards as required
by landmark legislation mandating transparency of spending data, the Digital Accountability and Transparency
Act of 2014 (DATA Act). These data standards provide a basis to improve the quality and consistency of Federal
spending data, and as a result, help provide the public with valuable, usable information on how Federal dollars
 are spent. Better understanding of U.S. government finances will increase public confidence and increased use
of the data will drive innovation and economic growth.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

IRM End of Term Status Summary

Commitment Aim

This commitment aimed to increase transparency of federal spending by:

  • Re-designing USAspending.gov with input from stakeholders to make it more searchable and user-friendly, expanding the site’s data to include account-level expenditures in a structured industry format, and regularly updating the data;
  • Improving the effectiveness of the public procurement and grant system based on stakeholder feedback, with the particular goals of “modernizing the online environment” for contract and grant opportunities, and establishing a transparent process for alternative means of identifying federal awardees; and
  • Centralizing the availability of integrity information for federal contractors and grantees, such as information on labor violations, parent/subsidiary structures, and corporate performance.

Status

Midterm: Limited

At the midterm, the government had made limited progress on this commitment:

  • With respect to Milestone 32.1, in November 2015 the government launched a beta version of USAspending.gov[1] and, per the government’s midterm self-assessment report, held in-person consultations with stakeholders.[2] The government also launched a new beta version of USAspending.gov that allowed the public to comment on proposed features.[3] However, at the close of the midterm reporting period, account-level expenditures were not available on USAspending.gov, resulting in substantial completion for this milestone.
  • With respect to Milestone 32.2, in November 2015, the government proposed a rule[4] to replace references in regulations to proprietary unique identifiers currently used to designate federal contract and grant recipients with generic terminology. The current system is based on the Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS), which is managed by a private company. Given that the DUNS standard is proprietary, much of the contracting data is not public or reusable. The proposed rule represents an initial step toward creating a regulatory environment that facilitates the public disclosure of more information on contractors and grant recipients. Given the preliminary state of the rule, completion for this milestone was limited.
  • With respect to Milestone 32.3, on 7 March 2016, the Department of Defense, the General Services Administration (GSA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Association (NASA) issued a final rule concerning “Information on Corporate Contractor Performance and Integrity” to amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation by requiring that the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS)[5] identify immediate owners, subsidiaries, and predecessors for federal contractors and grantees having received federal awards over the past three years.[6] At the midterm, however, the FAPIIS website did not include this information, and no progress was apparent with respect to publishing other integrity information described in the milestone text. As such, completion for this milestone is limited.

End of term: Limited

Progress on this commitment remains limited at the end of term:

  • At the close of the end-of-term reporting period, the redesigned USAspending.gov website remained in beta and account-level expenditures were still not available on USAspending.gov. While the beta version of the website launched in May 2017,[7] at the time of writing, a message on the USAspending.gov homepage indicated that the government would release a new (presumably non-beta) version of the website in fall 2017. Progress on Milestone 32.1 therefore remained substantial (as opposed to complete) at the end of term.
  • On 31 October 2016, the proposed rule to replace proprietary-unique identifiers for federal contract and grant recipients became effective,[8] and GSA began to search for alternatives to DUNS.[9] However, during the evaluation period, GSA also indicated that it does not intend to move away from its use of DUNS in the short-term,[10] highlighting the potentially long-term nature of the government’s search for an alternative system. Progress on this milestone therefore remains limited.
  • By the end of term, information on owners, subsidiaries, and predecessors for federal contractors and grantees was still not available via the FAPIIS website. In 2016, the US System for Award Management (SAM)[11]—where all organizations seeking federal contracts and grants must register in order to do business with the US government—was updated to require registrants to submit information on their parents, subsidiaries, and predecessors. This appears to be a preliminary step necessary for the government to obtain the required ownership information for subsequent incorporation into FAPIIS. However, integrity information remains unavailable on a centralized platform, resulting in limited completion for Milestone 32.3 at the end of term.

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Major

Civic Participation: Marginal

This commitment significantly opened government with respect to access to information and civic participation. With respect to access to information, the updated SAM.gov registration requirements implemented under Milestone 32.3 can be viewed as an early step toward facilitating greater public access to integrity information for contractors and grantees. However, the integrity information collected thus far has a limited scope (i.e. only ownership information) and, more importantly, no new information has been published yet.

More substantial progress has been made with respect to revisions to USAspending.gov under Milestone 32.1 via the launch of a revised beta platform. In particular, relative to the version of USAspending.gov that existed at the start of the action plan, the beta website now includes a spending explorer to filter funding by agency, class, and function, as well as a more user-friendly agency profile tab and award search. Moreover, as described in press reporting on the beta site, the revised site comprises a centralized repository of data spanning 100 federal agencies in machine-readable and open source format, with its features and data receiving praise in the media. While the data made available during the beta site’s initial launch covered only fiscal year 2017, historical data is envisioned to be added at a later date.[12] There is also already evidence of usage of the new data to track spending by government officials.[13] In light of the substantial improvement in access to information occasioned by the launch of the beta version of USAspending.gov, the IRM researcher assesses this commitment as having caused major movement toward greater access to information.

With respect to civic participation, the government’s engagement with stakeholders in the context of Milestones 32.2, namely through requesting public comments on a proposed rule, was limited in scope and represented a one-off instance of engagement as opposed to an ongoing engagement process, inhibiting a more substantial opening of government. Moreover, while the government engaged substantially with civil society on the redesign of USAspending.gov over a three-year period via an online platform soliciting public inputs,[14] this process occurred largely in the context of the previous national action plan. The actions taken under this commitment are therefore limited to a marginal opening of government relative to the status quo.

Carried Forward?

At the time of writing, the US government had not published its fourth national action plan, so it is unclear if this commitment will be carried forward. The government should nevertheless aim to continue to improve the USAspending.gov site, publish account-level expenditures, modernize the online environment for contractor opportunities and grant programs, and centralize and expand the contractor integrity information on the FAPIIS website. As described further in the progress report, the beta version of USAspending.gov was particularly well received by civil society stakeholders, and represents a particularly promising means of furthering open government in the UNITED STATES.


[1] USASpending.gov. “Open Beta Site.” https://openbeta.usaspending.gov/index.html. Consulted 27 June 2017.

[2] Open Government Partnership. “United States of America Midterm Self-Assessment Report for the Open Government Partnership: Third Open Government National Action Plan, 2015–2017.” p.34. September 2016. https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/USA_NAP3_self-assessment-report_20160916.pdf. Consulted 2 October 2017.

[3] Open Beta Site. https://openbeta.usaspending.gov/index.html. USASpending.gov.

[4] Federal Register. “Federal Acquisition Regulation; Unique Identification of Entities Receiving Federal Awards. ” 18 November 2015. https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-11-18/pdf/2015-29414.pdf. Consulted 9 October 2017.

[5] Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System. “Help.” https://www.fapiis.gov/fapiis/help.action. Consulted 9 October 2017.

[6] Federal Register. “Federal Acquisition Regulation: Information on Corporate Contractor Performance and Integrity.” 7 March 2016. https://bit.ly/2uJ23O7. Consulted 9 October 2017.

[7] U.S. Department of the Treasury Press Center. “Treasury Unveils New Website to Track Federal Spending.” 9 May 2017. https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/sm0076.aspx. consulted 17 March 2018.

[8] Federal Register. “Federal Acquisition Regulation; Unique Identification of Entities Receiving Federal Awards.” 30 September 2016. https://bit.ly/2K838Gw

[9] Goldman, Ken. “GSA Issues Request for Information for Entity Identification and Validation Services.” GSA Interact. 13 February 2017. https://interact.gsa.gov/blog/gsa-issues-request-information-entity-identification-and-validation-services

[10] fsd.gov. “Do I need to get a new unique entity identifier because of FAR Case 2015-022, Unique Identification of Identification of Entities Receiving Federal Awards?” https://bit.ly/2vxmEsM.

[11]General Services Administration. “System for Awards Management.” https://www.sam.gov/portal/SAM/##11. Consulted 22 September 2017.

[12] Lawder, David. “US Treasury upgrades website to better track federal spending data.” Reuters. 9 May 2017. https://reut.rs/2JiBtRX . Consulted 17 March 2018. See also Fed Manager. “USASpending.Gov Rollout Is A Model Of Government Done Well.” 11 July 2017. https://www.fedmanager.com/columns/from-the-hill/2788-usaspending-gov-rollout-is-a-model-of-government-done-well Consulted 17 March 2018.

[13] Quaintance, Zack. “What’s New in Civic Tech: Data from USASpending.gov Contributed to Reporting that Led to Cabinet Secretary’s Resignation,” Government Technology, 5 October 2017, http://bit.ly/2DDtThx.

[14] OpenBeta.USAspending.gov. “Concepts.” . Consulted 17 March 2018. For a history of government engagement on the beta site, see also Independent Reporting Mechanism. “United States End-of-Term Report: 2014-2015.” http://bit.ly/2sEBDv0.. Consulted 17 March 2018.


United States's Commitments

  1. Federal Data Strategy

    US0105, 2019, E-Government

  2. Grants Accountability

    US0106, 2019, E-Government

  3. Public Access to Federally Funded Research

    US0107, 2019, E-Government

  4. Workforce Data Standards

    US0108, 2019, E-Government

  5. Chief Data Officers

    US0109, 2019, Capacity Building

  6. Open Data for Public Health

    US0110, 2019, E-Government

  7. Enterprise Objective

    US0111, 2019, Capacity Building

  8. Developing Future Action Plans

    US0112, 2019, OGP

  9. Reconstitution of the USA.gov

    US0053, 2015, E-Government

  10. Accessibility of Government Information Online

    US0054, 2015, Marginalized Communities

  11. Access to Educational Resources

    US0055, 2015, Open Data

  12. Public Listing of Every Address in the US

    US0056, 2015, Open Data

  13. Informed Decisions About Higher Education.

    US0057, 2015, Open Data

  14. New Authentication Tools to Protect Individual Privacy and Ensure That Personal Records Go Only to the Intended Recipients.

    US0058, 2015, Public Service Delivery

  15. Transparency of Open311

    US0059, 2015, E-Government

  16. Support Medicine Research Throught Opening up Relevant Data of the Field

    US0060, 2015, Health

  17. Access to Workforce Data

    US0061, 2015, Open Data

  18. Using Evidence and Concrete Data to Improve Public Service Delivery

    US0062, 2015, Capacity Building

  19. Expand Use of the Federal Infrastructure Permitting Dashboard

    US0063, 2015,

  20. Consolidation of Import and Export Systems

    US0064, 2015, E-Government

  21. Improving Government Records

    US0065, 2015, Open Data

  22. Starred commitment Ammendments to FOIA

    US0066, 2015, Open Data

  23. Streamline the Declassification Process

    US0067, 2015, Capacity Building

  24. Implement the Controlled Unclassified Information Program

    US0068, 2015, Open Data

  25. Transparency of Privacy Programs and Practices

    US0069, 2015, Capacity Building

  26. Transparency of Federal Use of Investigative Technologies

    US0070, 2015, E-Government

  27. Increase Transparency of the Intelligence Community

    US0071, 2015, Capacity Building

  28. Open Science Through Open Data

    US0072, 2015, Open Data

  29. Open Data Portal

    US0073, 2015, E-Government

  30. Increase Transparency of Trade Policy and Negotiations

    US0074, 2015, E-Government

  31. Develop a Machine Readable Government Organizational Chart

    US0075, 2015, E-Government

  32. Improving Public Participation

    US0076, 2015, Public Participation

  33. Expand Public Participation in the Development of Regulations

    US0077, 2015, Public Participation

  34. Civic Engagement in Decision-Making Processes

    US0078, 2015, Public Participation

  35. Open Mapping

    US0079, 2015, E-Government

  36. Tracking OGP Implementation

    US0080, 2015, OGP

  37. Strengthening Whistleblower Protection

    US0081, 2015, Capacity Building

  38. Transparency of Legal Entities

    US0082, 2015, Beneficial Ownership

  39. Extractive Industries Transparency

    US0083, 2015, Extractive Industries

  40. Spending Transparency

    US0084, 2015, E-Government

  41. Enhance the Use of U.S. Foreign Assistance Information

    US0085, 2015, Aid

  42. Participatory Budgets and Responsive Spending

    US0086, 2015, Participation in Budget Processes

  43. Expand Access to Justice to Promote Federal Programs

    US0087, 2015, E-Government

  44. Build Safer Communities with Police Open Data

    US0088, 2015, E-Government

  45. Open Federal Data to Benefit Local Communities

    US0089, 2015, E-Government

  46. Support the Municipal Data Network

    US0090, 2015, E-Government

  47. Foster Data Ecosystems

    US0091, 2015, Capacity Building

  48. Extend Digital, Data-Driven Government to Federal Government’S Support for Communities

    US0092, 2015, Capacity Building

  49. Promote Implementation of SDGs

    US0093, 2015, Open Data

  50. Starred commitment Promote Open Climate Data

    US0094, 2015, E-Government

  51. Air Quality Data Available

    US0095, 2015, E-Government

  52. Promote Food Security and Data Sharing for Agriculture and Nutrition

    US0096, 2015, Capacity Building

  53. Promote Data Sharing About Global Preparedness for Epidemic Threats

    US0097, 2015, Capacity Building

  54. Promote Global Interconnectivity

    US0098, 2015, Aid

  55. Open Contracting

    US0099, 2015, Capacity Building

  56. Harness the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development

    US0100, 2015, OGP

  57. Open Government to Support Global Sustainable Development

    US0101, 2015, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  58. Open Collaboration Onf the Arctic

    US0102, 2015, Environment and Climate

  59. Support Capacity Building for Extractives Transparency

    US0103, 2015, Capacity Building

  60. Support Responsible Investment and Business Practices for Companies

    US0104, 2015, Private Sector

  61. Improve Public Participation in Government

    US0027, 2013, Capacity Building

  62. Modernize Management of Government Records

    US0028, 2013, Records Management

  63. Modernize the Freedom of Information Act

    US0029, 2013, Capacity Building

  64. Transform the Security Classification System

    US0030, 2013, Records Management

  65. Implement the Controlled Unclassified Information Program

    US0031, 2013, Security

  66. Increase Transparency of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Activities

    US0032, 2013, E-Government

  67. Make Privacy Compliance Information More Accessible

    US0033, 2013, E-Government

  68. Support and Improve Agency Implementation of Open Government Plans

    US0034, 2013, OGP

  69. Strengthen and Expand Whistleblower Protections for Government Personnel

    US0035, 2013, Capacity Building

  70. Increase Transparency of Legal Entities Formed in the United States

    US0036, 2013, Legislation & Regulation

  71. Starred commitment Implement the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

    US0037, 2013, Environment and Climate

  72. Make Fossil Fuel Subsidies More Transparent

    US0038, 2013, Extractive Industries

  73. Starred commitment Increase Transparency in Spending

    US0039, 2013, Fiscal Transparency

  74. Increase Transparency of Foreign Assistance

    US0040, 2013, Aid

  75. Continue to Improve Performance.Gov

    US0041, 2013, E-Government

  76. Consolidate Import and Export Systems to Curb Corruption

    US0042, 2013, Private Sector

  77. Promote Public Participation in Community Spending Decisions

    US0043, 2013, Infrastructure & Transport

  78. Expand Visa Sanctions to Combat Corruption

    US0044, 2013, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  79. Further Expand Public Participation in the Development of Regulations

    US0045, 2013, Capacity Building

  80. Open Data to the Public

    US0046, 2013, E-Government

  81. Continue to Pilot Expert Networking Platforms

    US0047, 2013, Public Participation

  82. Reform Government Websites

    US0048, 2013, E-Government

  83. Promote Innovation Through Collaboration and Harness the Ingenuity of the American Public

    US0049, 2013, Capacity Building

  84. Promote Open Education to Increase Awareness and Engagement

    US0050, 2013, E-Government

  85. Deliver Government Services More Effectively Through Information Technology

    US0051, 2013, E-Government

  86. Increase Transparency in Spending

    US0052, 2013, E-Government

  87. Reform Records Management

    US0001, 2011, Records Management

  88. Lead a Multi-Agency Effort

    US0002, 2011, Capacity Building

  89. Monitor Agency Implementation of Plans

    US0003, 2011, OGP

  90. Provide Enforcement and Compliance Data Online

    US0004, 2011, Environment and Climate

  91. Advocate for Legislation Requiring Meaningful Disclosure

    US0005, 2011, Legislation & Regulation

  92. Apply Lessons from Recovery Act to Increate Spending Transparency

    US0006, 2011, Fiscal Transparency

  93. Government-Wide Reporting Requirements for Foreign Aid

    US0007, 2011, Aid

  94. Use Performanc.Gov to Improve Government Performance and Accountability

    US0008, 2011, Public Service Delivery

  95. Overhaul the Public Participation Interface on Regulations.Gov

    US0009, 2011, Legislation & Regulation

  96. Launch Expertnet

    US0010, 2011, E-Government

  97. Launch International Space Apps Competition

    US0011, 2011, E-Government

  98. Launch “We the People”

    US0012, 2011,

  99. Open Source “We the People”

    US0013, 2011,

  100. Develop Best Practices and Metrics for Public Participation

    US0014, 2011, Capacity Building

  101. Professionalize the FOIA Administration

    US0015, 2011, Right to Information

  102. Harness the Power of Technology

    US0016, 2011, Right to Information

  103. Advocate for Legislation on Whistleblower Protection

    US0017, 2011, E-Government

  104. Explore Executive Authority to Protect Whistleblowers

    US0018, 2011, Legislation & Regulation

  105. Implement the EITI

    US0019, 2011, Extractive Industries

  106. Partnership to Build on Recent Progress

    US0020, 2011, Extractive Industries

  107. Promote Data.Gov to Spur Innovation Through Open Sourcing

    US0021, 2011, Open Data

  108. Data.Gov: Foster Communities on Data.Gov

    US0022, 2011, Education

  109. Begin Online National Dialogue with the American Public

    US0023, 2011, Public Participation

  110. Update Government-Wide Policies for Websites

    US0024, 2011,

  111. Promote Smart Disclosure to Ensure Timely Release of Information

    US0025, 2011, Capacity Building

  112. Publish Guidelines on Scientific Data

    US0026, 2011, Capacity Building