CBO scores bill to require online posting of program spending

Rep. Frank Guinta, R-N.H., introduced the bill in October. Rep. Frank Guinta, R-N.H., introduced the bill in October. David Lane/AP

A bill requiring agencies for the first time to post spending at the program level on a central website would cost some $115 million over the next four years, the Congressional Budget Office reported Thursday. The average cost of implementing computer upgrades and administrative changes for the 24 major departments and agencies would be $1 million.

The Government Results Transparency Act (H.R. 3262) was introduced by Rep. Frank Guinta, R-N.H., and cleared the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in November 2011. The bill would amend the Government Performance and Results Act to address “the glaring weaknesses in current federal program performance information posted on Performance.gov by establishing consistent data standards and identifiers across the federal government,” Guinta said in an op-ed written last fall for the Manchester Union-Leader.

Modeled on the broader Digital Accountability and Transparency Act backed by committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the Guinta bill would require agencies to publish their performance data on a website run by the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board in a standardized format that makes data downloadable and easier to analyze.

The Obama administration’s Performance.gov “promotes the White House’s management plans,” Guinta said, but it “does not track how individual federal programs are performing” and does not connect plans with spending data.

“I’m glad CBO recognizes that . . . the Government Results Transparency Act is revenue-neutral,” Guinta said in an email to Government Executive. “Americans deserve to know exactly how their tax dollars are being spent, and what specific results their money is producing.” He added the bill “would benefit citizens and decision-makers in government alike.”

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