The Data Act's unexpected benefit

Adam Mazmanian at FCW: “The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act sets an aggressive schedule for creating governmentwide financial standards. The first challenge belongs to the Treasury Department and the Office of Management and Budget. They must come up with a set of common data elements for financial information that will cover just about everything the government spends money on and every entity it pays in order to give oversight bodies and government watchdogs a top-down view of federal spending from appropriation to expenditure. Those data elements are scheduled for completion by May 2015, one year after the act’s passage.
Two years after those standards are in place, agencies will be required to report their financial information following Data Act guidelines. The government currently supports more than 150 financial management systems but lacks a common data dictionary, so there are not necessarily agreed-upon definitions of how to classify and track government programs and types of expenditures.
“As far as systems today and how we can get there, they don’t necessarily map in the way that the act described,” U.S. CIO Steven VanRoekel said in June. “It’s going to be a journey to get to where the act aspires for us to be.”
However, an Obama administration initiative to encourage agencies to share financial services could be part of the solution. In May, OMB and Treasury designated four financial shared-services providers for government agencies: the Agriculture Department’s National Finance Center, the Interior Department’s Interior Business Center, the Transportation Department’s Enterprise Services Center and Treasury’s Administrative Resource Center.
There are some synergies between shared services and data standardization, but shared financial services alone will not guarantee Data Act compliance, especially considering that the government expects the migration to take 10 to 15 years. Nevertheless, the discipline required under the Data Act could boost agency efforts to prepare financial data when it comes time to move to a shared service….”