Press Releases

Senate Unanimously Passes Warner-Portman Transparency Legislation

~ Bipartisan DATA Act allows taxpayers to track every dollar spent by federal agencies ~ ~ ‘Most significant transparency legislation since Freedom of Information Act' ~

Apr 10 2014

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate today passed Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Sen. Rob Portman’s (R-OH) bipartisan Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA). This landmark transparency legislation will allow taxpayers to track every dollar spent by federal agencies on a common website, and help lawmakers more easily identify fraud, waste and abuse to create a more efficient government. The DATA Act expands the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (FFATA) to standardize and fully disclose federal agency expenditures, and it incorporates steps to simplify financial reporting and improve the quality of spending data. Passage of a House version of the DATA Act is expected shortly after the upcoming two-week congressional recess. 

“Our taxpayers deserve to know how their federal funds are spent – dollar for dollar – and it is our obligation to share that information in a clear and direct way. Today, the Senate passed this important bipartisan legislation to make sure taxpayers get the transparency they are entitled to,” Sen. Mark Warner, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee’s Government Performance Task Force said. “The DATA Act will improve the way the federal government does business and it’s a true example of how Washington is supposed to work – across the aisle and on both sides of the Capitol.”

“During a time of record $17 trillion debt, our bipartisan bill will help identify and eliminate wasteful spending by better tracking federal spending. I am pleased that our bill to improve federal financial transparency and empower taxpayers to see how their money is spent has passed the Senate, and I urge swift passage in the House of Representatives,”  Sen. Portman said.

A coalition of more than 25 nonpartisan government accountability organizations have endorsed the DATA Act, and it is regarded by some as the most significant open-government legislation since the Freedom of Information Act in 1966.

“Passage of the DATA Act is a huge step toward ensuring the public can go online to track accurate, timely and complete information about federal spending,” said John Wonderlich, the Sunlight Foundation’s Policy Director.  “We commend the Senate for working in a bipartisan manner to enact meaningful, government-wide spending data standards and ensure public access to this vital information.”  

The DATA Act has strong bipartisan support from nine Members, including Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Tom Carper (D-DE), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Chris Coons (D-DE), John Enzi (R-WY), Ron Johnson (R- WI), John McCain (R- AZ), Patty Murray (D-WA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). The DATA Act is a Senate companion to legislation sponsored by Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

A summary of the DATA Act can be read here, and the legislation can be accessed here

Passage of the DATA Act builds on Sen. Warner’s efforts to demand greater accountability and efficiency in federal programs and spending. Sen. Warner also successfully passed the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act of 2010, which requires federal agencies to evaluate and disclose their highest and lowest performing programs each quarter, and to designate a performance improvement officer for each agency. In addition, Sen. Warner has introduced bipartisan legislation to eliminate redundant, ineffective or outdated federal reports and agency regulations.