History is the likely final arbiter of the effectiveness of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), commonly called the Stimulus Bill. But, the legacy of that piece of legislation may forever change the way people view government spending. As never before, the ARRA called for and implemented transparency requirements associated with spending. In theory, citizens were able to track how stimulus dollars were being spent directly in their communities and the government was able to more easily identify improper payments, waste, fraud, and abuse. One of the lasting results is that the stimulus has done more to increase the need and imperative for government transparency than almost any other trigger in history. Further, there has been a large increase in demand for transparency at all levels of government.
Citizens are demanding to know how much money is being spent, on what, paid to which vendors, for which programs, and the results of the spending. Governments are being held accountable for what they spend and the associated results. As such, there is a widespread reality that transparency and accountability must be a critical part of any government service initiative going forward. This is a fundamental shift in the operational and political models.
The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed H.R. 2146. With bipartisan support, the bill is likely to pass the Senate at some point. The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (H.R. 2146) requires each person, state, local, or tribal government, or any government corporation (recipient) that receives appropriated funds, either directly or through a sub-grant or subcontract at any tier, to report at least once quarterly each receipt and use of such funds to the Federal Accountability and Spending Transparency Board established by this Act.
Governments readily recognize that this shift will change the way government does business, gathers information, and reports on spending and outcomes. Having a 360° view will be required to start to answer some of those questions, provide accurate information, and provide the ability to analyze the date to truly measure outcomes and results.