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Monday, August 04, 2014

Massive inconsistencies continue to affect USASpending.gov data

Agencies have not been properly reporting their grants and loans to USASpending.gov, according to the Government Accountability Office. A probe of data on the website found that only 2-to-7 percent of awards listed were entirely consistent when checked against agencies records.

"Although agencies generally reported information for contracts to USASpending.gov, they did not properly report information on assistance awards, totaling nearly $619 billion," GAO said in its report it released Friday.

GAO said the most common data inconsistency were descriptions of an award's place of performance. The names of recipients are the most consistent between records and online. GAO could not determine how consistent other award records were because agencies' records were incomplete or inadequate.

The report said 10 percent of awards information could not be verified and a significant amount of information could not be verified about program source information and the state of performance.

Among the inconsistencies, GAO found that some online awards records did not have verifiable data from their issuing agencies. The Office of Management and Budget placed requirements on agencies to ensure their data has substantiated information and verifying documents, but GAO said the standards have not been effective.

Federal funding of the improperly reported awards totaled $619 billion. GAO recommended OMB issue guidance clarifying agencies' reporting requirements.

It also wants agencies to keep better records to verify information on USASpending.gov and wants an oversight process to regularly check consistency between the records.

GAO's report is not the first time USASpending.gov has come under fire. In 2013, OMB gave agencies a November 2014 deadline to assure that all information on the site is accurate.

- Ariel Levin-Waldman, FederalNewsRadio.com

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