GAO: $619 Billion in Government Spending Never Disclosed on Transparency Website

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Less than seven percent of the spending information reported to is accurate. More than $600 billion in spending is completely missing, according to new report by the Government Accountability Office. 

In 2006, Dr. Coburn, along with then-Senator Barack Obama, introduced the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (FFATA), which was signed into law by President Bush.  The law required the creation of a single website to track all federal spending. In order to address the inconsistency of the information on, Senators Coburn, Portman, Warner, and Carper passed the DATA Act, a bill originally introduced by Congressman Issa that improves the reporting required under FFATA and requires the posting of even more granular information. 

“The administration set a goal of 100% accuracy by the end of 2011,” Dr. Coburn said, “Three years later the federal government cannot even break a 10% accuracy rate. This complete failure in spending transparency hurts our ability to assess the pros and cons of how Washington spends tax dollars. It is disappointing that the federal bureaucracy is so vast and unaccountable that the Administration cannot enact the president’s signature accomplishment as a senator requiring the government to disclose how and where it spends money. Without transparency there can be no accountability,”

“We live in a world in which information drives decisions and, given the budget constraints that our government faces, we need reliable information on how and where our money is being spent. By increasing the availability, accuracy, and usefulness of federal spending information, we enhance government transparency, improve accountability, and reduce wasteful government spending,” Chairman Carper said. “This latest GAO report underscores the federal government’s ongoing challenges when it comes to showing the American people how their tax dollars are being used, at what cost, and with what result. That’s why efforts like the DATA Act are so important. The bipartisan DATA Act takes an important first step towards the establishment of government-wide financial data standards, which will significantly improve the ability of policy makers and the public to analyze how federal tax dollars are being spent. But as with any legislation, Congress’ job does not end when the President signs the bill. Fortunately, this report will help guide us in our efforts as we work with the Administration to ensure that the DATA Act is properly implemented. I urge the Administration to follow through with GAO’s recommendations and I will continue to collaborate with my colleagues in Congress as we work toward a more transparent and responsive government.” 

“At a time when the government is running trillion-dollar deficits on top of a record $16 trillion debt, Washington should be doing all it can to track how taxpayer dollars are spent,” Portman stated. “This report is more evidence that we need the transparency and visibility that comes with the DATA Act now more than ever so we can identify and eliminate wasteful spending.”

“It is completely unacceptable that the federal government continues to struggle to report even the most basic information on how taxpayer resources are spent. Congress cannot conduct effective oversight if spending information is unreliable, and taxpayers are rightly frustrated when information isn’t accurate or easily accessible,” Warner said. “This is exactly why I authored and Congress enacted the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act earlier this year, which will modernize the way federal financial data is collected and reported.”