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®: CRE Regulatory Action of the Week

Sunlight on Federal Spending
Data on virtually all federal grants, contracts and purchase orders will be available on a single website starting in January 2008. The searchable, publicly accessible database will cover federal awards to for-profit and nonprofit entities as well as to state and local governments. Starting in 2009, subcontractor and sub-grantee information will be also included on the database to be operated by OMB. Only classified projects and transactions under $25,000 will be excluded from the website.

The newly enacted and aptly named Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act that mandates creation of the database is a major victory for all stakeholders working to ensure that federal funds are spent effectively.

CRE is part of a private sector initiative, the Research Accountability Project (RAP), that seeks to analyze federally-funded research to identify potential waste, fraud, and bias. The new federal funding database will be an essential tool for RAP, other watchdog groups and journalist interested in monitoring and understanding federal spending decisions.

The passage of the legislation is a very important first step, but related legislation, although not as comprehensive, has been on the books for years. The challenge is to get the Executive Branch to meet the deadlines in the statute. One major problem is funding; given the restricted level of funding available to OMB, innovative mechanisms for funding must be explored.

The RAP will be working to have the statute implemented in a timely manner and will report its activities.

  • Click to read Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act
  • Click to read Presidential Signing Statement