Open Government Directive

Federal Spending Transparency



As detailed in the Open Government Directive issued by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on December 8, 2009, transparency is a cornerstone of an open government. This Administration is committed to making federal expenditures of taxpayer dollars transparent to the public by providing readily accessible, complete, accurate, and usablefederal spending data.

Full and easy access to information on government spending promotes accountability by allowing detailed tracking and analysis of the deployment of government resources. Such tracking and analysis allow both the public and public officials to gauge the effectiveness of expenditures and to modify spending patterns as necessary to achieve the best possible results. Transparency also gives the public confidence that we are properly managing its funds. This memorandum is a major step, building on the achievements of and the lessons learned from implementing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act), toward furtherinstilling a culture of transparency in federal spending.

As required by the mandates set forth in the Open Government Directive, this memorandum provides guidance by:

  • Establishing an October 1, 2010 deadline for Federal agencies to initiate sub-award reporting pursuant to P.L.109-282 the Federal Funding Accountability and TransparencyAct (Transparency Act) and provide a timeline for additional guidance to assist inmeeting the goals established therein;
  • Initiating new requirements for Federal agencies to maintain metrics on the quality and completeness of Federal spending data provided pursuant to the Transparency Act;
  • Announcing the release of the new website.

The Transparency Act required OMB to “ensure the existence and operation of a single searchable website” for Federal awards. Since January 2008, Federal agencies have been submitting Federal spending information to on Federal contracts, grants, cooperative agreements, loans, and other financial assistance. This information has provided more transparency into the Federal government’s spending than was previously available. Despite this progress, further steps are necessary to enhance transparency and meet the important mandates of the Transparency Act. An important goal is to improve the quality of the data currently available. Much more needs to be done to ensure the accuracy and the completeness of the data. Today’s memorandum requires Federal agencies to take steps that will produce significant improvements in data quality.

A clear lesson from the Federal government’s experience with the websiteis that, given the numerous stakeholders involved in the federal spending process and the complexity of underlying systems, all efforts to improve transparency must include thoughtful consideration of the costs and benefits of various implementation approaches. This consideration should be guided by a long-range vision of how optimal transparency will be achieved.

In order to foster additional collaboration and partnership with the public, we will solicit input on current transparency initiatives, the challenges and burdens faced by stakeholders in increasing transparency, technical and logistical obstacles, and additional efforts to improve federal spending transparency. OMB will ask for ideas and recommendations on how interested parties outside the government and the various professional disciplines within the Government – policy, budget and appropriations, procurement, finance, and technology operations – can best work together to define and develop a long-range vision for optimal transparency. This dialoguewill be vital to inform the next steps in the Administration’s effort to promote transparency.

We look forward to working with you as we implement the key actions outlined in the guidance to achieve our mutual goals. If you have any questions regarding this memorandum, please contact Debra Bond, Deputy Controller of the Office of Federal Financial Management/OMB.