House Acts to Cap Federal Travel Spending

One byproduct of the General Services Administration (GSA) scandal over wasteful government travel spending, the House of Representatives approved by a unanimous voice vote, the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (H.R. 2146). Among other provisions the DATA Act caps non-military federal travel spending at 80 percent of FY2010 levels and limits the number and size of taxpayer funded government conferences- cutting travel spending by hundreds of million per year. While Senate and Presidential approval is needed on final legislation, the economic impact on the travel industry - including conferences and meetings -remains a major concern.

“Today’s strong bipartisan showing is a major win for transparency and accountability,” said Rep. Darrell Issa, (R-CA), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the bill’s lead Republican sponsor.

“The lavish spending by GSA in Las Vegas has again highlighted the extent of waste and excess that occurs in government. The DATA Act will create accountability by exposing waste and allowing Americans to examine the details of how the federal is spending their tax dollars,” Issa said in  statement.

The legislation’s lead cosponsor is Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), ranking member of the Oversight Committee.

The bill establishes reporting standards for federal spending information – building upon the “Recovery Operations Center” and the landmark USASpending.gov – to build a single electronic system that combines spending information from agencies, the Treasury, and recipients of federal funds, Issa said

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) praised the House move and said he will review the House legislation to incorporate many of their improvements in the companion Senate bill. He hopes to pass a bipartisan DATA Act in the near future.

Senator Warner is chairman of the Senate Budget Committee's bipartisan Task Force on Government Performance and is the lead sponsor of the Senate companion to the DATA Act, which has been referred to the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

“Standardizing the way this (spending) information is reported, and then centralizing the way it’s publicly disclosed, will make it a lot easier to identify needless duplication and inefficiency and help us spot and prevent waste and fraud. It will help inform the work of Congress and allow taxpayers and policymakers to more accurately track federal spending, " Warner said.

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