Interior IG Finds Inaccurate DATA Act Information

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The Inspector General for the Department of the Interior assessed the information that the agency submitted under the DATA Act, and found that some of the data was incomplete or inaccurate.

The IG found 16 of 385 transactions tested were incomplete; 53 were not timely; 145 did not meet quality standards; and 145 were not accurate.

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“We assessed the data submitted and found that, while it contained most of the required information and conformed to the OMB [Office of Managment and Budget] and Treasury standards, there were deficiencies in completeness, timeliness, quality, and accuracy of the data submissions we sampled,” Mary Kendall, deputy IG for DOI, said in the report.

The IG verified accuracy using 18 tests, which included comparing transaction amounts and various awardee attributes with source documents, internal and external source systems, and USASpending.gov to see if they agree with source documents and source systems.

“We found that the DOI can improve the completeness, timeliness, accuracy, and quality of its financial and award data submitted to USASpending.gov,” the report said. “If it does not improve, the website will continue to display DOI award and financial information incorrectly or not at all.”

The DATA Act was an attempt for agencies to bring together its spending data in one format and on one publicly accessible website. Government agencies are trying to move beyond simply managing data to analyzing and using data to inform decisions.

“We have a lot of information and that information needs to be tied together,” said Michael Peckham, Data Act Project Management Office executive director for Health and Human Services, at Software AG’s Innovation Tour on Nov. 2.

Peckham said that bringing data together in one readable format on the USAspending site is a good first step because it allows people to use the data. However, Peckham acknowledged the concerns that not all of the data is accurate.

“We’re a long way from perfect,” Peckham said. “But it’s interesting to look at it now because it tells a story that we haven’t been able to do before.”

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