GAO: DATA Act Compliance Still Varies, but Error Rates Remain Low

While the majority of Federal agencies are meeting completeness, timeliness, and accuracy benchmarks for Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act) reporting, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded that compliance with the legislation still varies across agencies.

GAO reviewed 51 Offices of the Inspector General (OIG) reports on DATA Act compliance during the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2019. In a report released July 9 reviewing the quality of data submitted, GAO wrote that 44 of the reports included a completeness error rate lower than 20 percent, 38 of the reports included a timeliness error rate lower than 20 percent, and 42 of the reports included an accuracy error rate lower than 20 percent.

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“Many OIGs also reported that agencies properly implemented and used the data standards, though some OIGs reported issues that may preclude agencies from doing so consistently,” the report states. “Most OIGs reported control deficiencies and made recommendations to help improve the quality of their agencies’ data.”

Many of the accuracy errors were attributed to external third-party systems, not the agencies. In the OIG reports, agencies said issues with SAM, FPDS-NG, and FABS caused accuracy errors.

Agencies also failed to properly implement data standards, according to GAO’s review of OIG reports, because there was an inconsistent use of data standards per the agency’s inventory and mapping of data elements, a failure to identify a data source for data elements, and ineffective agency data validation procedures to ensure the accuracy and timeliness of data elements reported.

The three most common recommendations made to improve DATA Act compliance were to establish and implement procedure or guidance, develop controls over the submission process, and develop controls over data from source systems, GAO found. GAO did not make any additional recommendations.

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