OMB sets timeline to launch federal spending database

With about 10 months until the congressionally mandated deadline to put all federal contract and grant spending in a database and online, the Office of Management and Budget is asking for public comment on how best to implement the law.

OMB launched a Web site, www.federalspending.gov, to collect these comments and set out an implementation timeline and the first set of frequently asked questions.

The site also includes links to existing sources of federal contract and grant data, including the Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation, the Federal Assistance Award Data System for grants and fedspending.org, the site developed by OMB Watch, a nonprofit organization in Washington.

'We will take public comment until we launch the final solution,' said an administration official requesting anonymity.

OMB said it will decide on the data elements that agencies still need to collect over the next five months and then launch a pilot in July for subgrants and contracts.

'The data is the big issue,' said the official. 'Some data elements already are searchable and some are not. We need to decide what needs to be collected and compare it to what is already available.'

The official added that the working group will not issue a request for proposal and instead plans to use existing systems and components, including the USA.gov infrastructure. The overall technical approach still is under discussion.

OMB also will lean on its policy on search and retrieval instead of developing a new one.

'The approach we are taking is using existing data sources and making them searchable to the public with a low burden and hopefully a low cost,' the official said.

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