Governmental Watch: Transparency and Reporting Will Affect Meetings
Jan 22, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

flagOn November 18, 2013, the House of Representatives passed HR 2061 known as the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2013, by 388-1. Below is a summary of the bill, a review of the Senate version, US travel association reactions and key takeaways for us all. 

GOVERNMENT AT WORK 

The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2013:

  • Discloses direct federal agency expenditures and links federal contract, loan, and grant spending information to programs of federal agencies to enable taxpayers and policy makers to track federal spending more effectively.
     
  • Provides consistent, reliable, and searchable government-wide spending data that is displayed accurately for taxpayers and policy makers on the USASpending.gov website.
     
  • Analyzes federal spending data to proactively prevent waste, fraud, abuse, and improper payments.
     
  • Simplifies reporting for entities receiving federal funds by streamlining reporting requirements and reducing compliance costs while improving transparency; and
     
  • Improves the quality of data submitted to USASpending.gov by holding federal agencies accountable for the completeness and accuracy of the data submitted.

S. 994, which is very similar to HR 2061, goes onto define in more detail the following: 

  • Transfer from the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to the Secretary of the Treasury the responsibility for maintaining the website USASpending.gov.
     
  • Require spending data for all federal funds to indicate the appropriation, federal agency, sub-agency, account, program activity, and object class for such funds.
     
  • Require the Secretary to establish government-wide financial data standards for federal funds and to use data collected under this Act to detect, prevent, and recover improper payments. 

TRAVEL ASSOCIATION REACTIONS 

"Lawmakers are seeking publicity for tackling a number of well-publicized incidents from several years ago in which government travel budgets were unquestionably abused by a few irresponsible parties, but those issues were already addressed by new accountability protocols at the administrative level," stated Roger Dow, President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. 

"Use of professional travel management principles can avoid the embarrassing, expensive and indefensible costs and stories like GSA's Las Vegas scandal. Congress should mandate that the federal government should uniformly follow everyday practices adopted at thousands of U.S. companies – optimizing the use of travel dollars by effectively implementing policies that drive appropriate traveler behavior," stated Mike McCormick, Executive Director of Global Business Travel Association. 
 
KEY TAKEAWAYS
 
Here is my assessment of this governmental action. Please comment below and let me know what you think about all of this.  
 
  • Whether we like it or not, transparency is king.
    It doesn't matter if you are working with the government, Fortune 500 company or a start-up, they want to know what they are paying for and that it is a fair and equitable fee. So, don't fight it – provide it. 
     
  • Reporting is a fact of life and should become easier as we move to mobile apps.
    Get everything in writing from your vendors, keep it in an online folder and make certain you get what you pay for. 
     
  • Don't overlook the value of local, regional and hybrid meetings.
    With a variety of interactive technology tool rentals available to you, make certain you justify why you need to fly everyone to one location for a 3-day conference. Sometimes virtual, hybrid, local or regional meetings will work just as well. 

SmartSource Rentals is a national total technology solution provider with 21 locations to serve you! 

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