WHEREAS, the U.S. Conference of Mayors has a strong commitment to transparency and accountability in how taxpayers money is spent; and
WHEREAS, due to the multitude of federal funding agencies each with unique requirements, the monitoring and reporting on federal funds by local government agencies is complicated, confusing and time consuming; and
WHEREAS, the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) developed standardized reporting requirements for all recipients of stimulus funding, and these reporting requirements added an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability to the spending of federal funds, demanding more data in less time; and
WHEREAS, the lessons learned from the practices that were instituted in ARRA reporting could be replicated in non-ARRA federally-funded grant programs; and
WHEREAS, in an effort to codify more standardization, transparency and accountability in federally-funded grants, H.R. 2146, the “Digital Accountability & Transparency Act of 2012” (DATA Act) was introduced in the 112th Congress by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on April 25, 2012 and is now under consideration in the U.S. Senate; and
WHEREAS, the DATA Act creates a new independent agency, “Federal Accountability & Spending Transparency Commission,” to oversee the requirements of the Act, including coordinating and managing grant reporting, establishing common data elements and data standards, and conducting independent analyses and reviews of the spending of federal funds; and
WHEREAS, the DATA Act also establishes a “Federal Accountability & Spending Transparency Advisory Committee,” which would be comprised of local government recipients of federal funds among others and whose purpose is to advise and make recommendations to the Commission on the implementation of the Act; and
WHEREAS, the goals of the DATA Act for greater transparency and accountability in the reporting of federally-funded grants are laudable, there would be significant reporting requirements placed upon state and local governments to comply with the provisions of the DATA Act for all federally-funded grant programs; and
WHEREAS, the DATA Act does not allocate any funding to state or local governments to successfully implement, administer and maintain the new reporting requirements; and
WHEREAS, state and local governments are already fiscally strained, and these additional requirements would impose a serious and significant financial burden upon state and local governments and even discourage state and local governments from pursuing applicable federal grant opportunities; and
WHEREAS, these additional requirements would also impose a serious and significant administrative burden on state and local governments, demanding time, adequate staff, and appropriate data systems for effective implementation.
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the U.S. Conference of Mayors supports the purpose and goals of the DATA Act but respectfully calls upon the U.S. Senate to amend and pass the legislation to provide sufficient funding for state and local governments to implement, administer and maintain the new reporting requirements, and detail a phased-in approach, as well as reasonable timelines and frequency for actual reporting, so that state and local governments have the ability to establish necessary businesses processes, realign data systems, and help mitigate data quality problems; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the U.S. Conference of Mayors urges the U.S. House of Representatives to agree to such amendments before final passage; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that once the DATA Act is enacted into law, the U.S. Conference of Mayors calls upon the Federal Accountability & Spending Transparency Commission to select local government representatives to the Advisory Committee who have practical experience in the monitoring and reporting of federally-funded grants and that the Commission give strong considerations to the recommendations made by those members of the Advisory Committee who are most impacted by the requirements of the DATA Act.