The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act: Background, Overview, and Implementation Issues
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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On September 26, 2006, President Bush signed S. 2590, the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, into law P.L. 109-282. In an attempt to expand oversight of federal spending, including earmarks, the new law requires the Office of Management and Budget OMB to establish a publicly available online database containing information about entities that are awarded federal grants, loans, and contracts. Federal agencies award over one trillion dollars annually in those three categories of financial assistance -- 460 billion in grants, 360 billion in contracts, and 260 billion in direct and guaranteed loans -- accounting for nearly one-third of the federal governments total expenditures and obligations. According to the sponsors of the legislation, the new database will deter wasteful and unnecessary spending, since government officials will be less likely to earmark funds for special projects if they know the public could identify how much money was awarded to which organizations, and for what purposes. S. 2590 was a companion bill to H.R. 5060, which also called for the creation of a federal awards database. The bills differed in several respects, however, most notably in that S. 2590 required information on federal contracts to be made available to the public, but H.R. 5060 did not. Because contracts represent over 340 billion in federal awards, the scope of the Senate version was significantly broader. While the intent of the legislation is widely lauded, concern has been expressed by government officials and members of the public that issues surrounding implementation of the proposed database have not been adequately addressed. This report summarizes the legislative history and key provisions of P.L. 109-282 S. 2590, compares it to H.R. 5060, and discusses challenges that are associated with implementing the new laws proposed database that may prove to be areas for future congressional oversight.
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