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Monday, September 11, 2006

Senate passes bill creating federal spending database

"Legislation that would produce a searchable Internet database of federal contracts, grants and loans passed the Senate Thursday night, pleasing government oversight groups that believe it would prompt improvements to existing federal databases.

The 2006 Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (S.2590) directs the Office of Management and Budget to ensure the operation of an online database accessible to the public at no cost.

Passage of the bill was delayed by holds from Sens. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and Robert Byrd, D-W.Va. They cited the need for more time to review the measure.

A similar bill co-sponsored by House Government Reform Committee Chairman Tom Davis, R-Va., and Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., (H.R. 5060) passed the House on June 21, but that system would include only grant information, not contracts.

The Senate legislation calls for the database to host a Google-like search engine that would gather information from existing federal databases, including the Federal Procurement Data System, the Federal Assistance Award Data System and Grants.gov.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that updating existing databases and adding a central search engine would cost about $4 million in fiscal 2007 and $5 million in fiscal 2008. Another $2 million in annual appropriations would be needed thereafter to cover maintenance costs. "

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