NPP to U.S. Treasury: Here's Why Spending Data Matters

Last Friday, the U.S. Treasury Department held a town hall meeting to discuss implementation of the DATA Act, an important federal spending transparency law passed last spring.

The meeting was a chance for people to tell the government how they use federal spending information and what changes or improvements they’d like to see. Over 200 people registered, and the crowd included leadership from the agencies, data transparency advocates, and tech industry leaders.

NPP presented at the town hall because our perspective is unique. While many DATA Act advocates focus on federal contracts and on rooting out government waste, fraud, and abuse—important and necessary conversations—I was honored to speak for regular budget users across the country by making the case for:

  • The “where” of federal dollars. Federal spending data should be served with a healthy dose of geography so we can see where money is going and how it impacts our communities.
  • Renewed focus on federal grants. Contracts are just one (albeit a big) way we spend money. But grants have a direct impact on people: food stamps, education benefits, Medicaid, and hundreds of other programs are funded through federal grants. We need accurate and granular information about them.

We like to say that NPP is “of the Beltway, but not in the Beltway.” We’ll proudly continue to represent not just those who will profit from open data but all of us who have a right to know how our nation chooses to spend its money.

PS While we wait for the DATA Act implementation, we’re also compiling some spending data of our own because, darn it, we’re tired of waiting. Watch for the launch of State Smart in two weeks!