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OMB Watch: Improving Data Quality Is The Name of the Game
The venerable watchdog organization OMB Watch is launching a website, FedSpending.org with a searchable database providing information about federal grants and contracts since FY 2000. OMB Watch's program parallels the ambitious goals that OMB is called on to achieve in the newly enacted Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act. The Act, which was supported by the Research Accountability Project (RAP) a private sector initiative that CRE has joined, seeks to analyze federally-funded research to identify potential waste, fraud, and bias.

OMB Watch recognizes the Data Quality challenges inherent in development of the database. A Federal Times article states that a senior OMB Watch official "said he can't certify the integrity of the information beyond assuring that it's what the government makes available which in many cases is incomplete or inadequate."

Of note, OMB Watch emphasized their goal of improving the government's Data Quality. The NGO's Executive Director explained "Once there's greater demand for the data, government will be obligated to improve it dramatically. ... That's the name of the game. That's what we're after."

OMB has made clear the government's own commitment to Data Quality in developing and operating the database. An OMB official said that "OMB plans to ensure agencies have the necessary controls in place to provide accurate information for the government site" and that the "Government Accountability Office and the inspectors general will also play a role in assessing the site's accuracy."

OMB Watch hopes that their site will "serve as a prototype for the government version." A crucial way in which OMB Watch can enhance their site and the ability of the government to use it as a model is for FedSpending.org to adhere to the Data Quality Act and establish an information correction process allowing users to correct information on the site to ensure that it is accurate, complete and unbiased.

  • See Federal Times article
  • See FedSpending.org
  • See CRE RegWeek "Sunlight on Federal Spending"
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