DATA ACT: MANY PATHS — SAME DESTINATION

There are two areas of the DATA Act implementation that I will briefly discuss. These two areas are closely linked together: XBRL as the standard for data; and the opportunity to leverage numerous approaches and software to obtain the goals of the DATA Act.

 

XBRL as the Standard

Having XBRL as the standard for data may indeed be the right long term goal. However, it is very likely that implementing XBRL as the standard for all data sources will not be complete until well after the deadline for implementation of the DATA Act. In the meantime, Treasury and OMB need to develop a strategy that will provide for a combination of XBRL and non-XBRL standards. This flexibility can be achieved by using currently available data that is being reported to Treasury and OMB today and also by taking advantage of the technologies currently available which are capable of processing both XBRL and non-XBRL data. In whatever format data is submitted the challenge will be to have the data follow the agreed upon standards and be accurate.

 

Many Options Available

The private sector has developed numerous software technologies that can greatly assist the federal government in implementing the DATA Act. These software solutions are easy to implement, nimble to change and the cost designed to match the size of the use or application.

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For example, if a state government entity only needs a specific app, it may be available on a subscription basis for as little as $500 per month. Instead of taking years, which is common for implementing or upgrading a large ERP application, these solutions can be implemented in weeks or a few months. Some state governments are using software in conjunction with their ERP to provide the front-end presentation and analytics of the data. Treasury and OMB should explore numerous options as they conduct pilots.   Equally important it is not necessary for the central agencies to pick “a winner”. Rather agencies should be allowed the flexibility to select an approach that suites their needs as long as the agency follow the DATA Act principles provided by Treasury and OMB.

Dick Gregg is a Managing Director at HJS with a focus on Federal Financial Management, DATA Act and Shared Services.
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