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Wednesday, October 23, 2019 News

A Great Development on the GREAT Act

Open Access   ·   Open Data

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Grant Reporting Efficiency and Agreements Transparency (GREAT) Act (S. 1829). The GREAT Act aims to simplify and harmonize federal grant recipient reporting obligations. Specifically, it requires the creation of a comprehensive and standardized data structure covering all data elements reported by recipients of federal awards — including grant and cooperative agreements. It standardizes how the government reports its grants data much in the same way the 2014 DATA Act did for agency spending.

By replacing outdated documents with open data, the GREAT Act will deliver transparency for grantmaking agencies and the public and allow grantees to automate their reporting processes, reducing compliance costs. The bill fosters increased federal oversight and transparency into the distribution of federal funding and facilitates the adoption of modern technologies.

The legislation, which tasks the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and a leading grant agency with its implementation, requires that:

  • Within two years: Establish government-wide data standards for information related to federal awards reported by recipients of federal awards.
  • Within three years: Issue guidance to grantmaking agencies on how to leverage new technologies and implement the new data standards into existing reporting practices with minimum disruption

SPARC advocated for this bill through our membership in the Data Coalition, including signing a letter in June to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs in favor of the legislation. We’re grateful to the Data Coalition, and our many colleagues in the Open Data space, for their leadership on this issue.

The bill will now return to the House of Representatives for a vote on this modified language. In January, the House unanimously passed its own version (H.R. 150) of this bill. We’re hoping for a quick turnaround and a Presidential signature before too long!

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