Understanding the DATA Act

Federal spending: Where does the money go?

With more than $3 trillion dollars in annual budgets, the US federal government is the world’s largest customer. In 2007, the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act established to publish information on all federal awards. However, the website was difficult to analyze due to:

  • Unsearchable spending data
  • Lack of standardization across agency databases
  • Incompatible formats, making data difficult to compare
Reporting on federal awards is about to change.

The 2014 Digital Accountability & Transparency Act (DATA Act) aims to remedy this by creating government-wide standards for financial data, and expanding what data needs to be published on These changes will simplify reporting for entities receiving federal funds, improve the quality of data published, reduce compliance costs, highlight waste and fraud, and create transparency into government-wide spending. The DATA Act will require institutions receiving federal funds to change how and what information is reported and published by the federal government.

Digital Accountability & Transparency Act

Timeline of changes coming to federal award reporting

Intended results of the DATA Act:

  • Accountability: As federal funds are published using data standards/reports, information will be fully searchable and transparent
  • Effective management: Reporting all federal spending using common data elements will improve management of funds across agencies
  • Highlight waste and fraud: Data standards may improve identification of fraud and waste within federal spending
  • Automated compliance: Use of standardized reports will support compliance and may reduce compliance costs by automating reports for grantees and contractors

Digital Accountability & Transparency Act (continued from above)

Timeline of changes coming to federal award reporting

For more information on this topic, or to learn how Baker Tilly higher education specialists can help, contact our team.

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Revenue recognition standards will have major impact on financial statements