The Recovery, Accountability and Transparency Board — or RAT Board — has redefined the way the government tracks grants and contracts. The board now is the model for efforts to implement governmentwide spending oversight, and bipartisan legislation in both the House and Senate could make the RAT Board a permanent fixture in overseeing federal spending.
But, the board chairwoman said, the RAT Board is not “resting on our laurels.” The board is working on several pilot programs, one aimed at consolidating grant reporting to ease the reporting burden for award recipients, said Kathleen Tighe, the chairwoman of the board, in an interview The Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Emily Kopp.
The RAT Board was created to oversee Recovery Act spending. It set up the website Recovery.gov to track the funds, self-reported by recipients, and launched a pilot with FederalAccountability.gov to track Recovery Act spending with Medicare and Medicaid provider enrollment data, veterans’ disability payments and small business HUBZone certifications.
Tighe said the board has received funds to do “some modest testing and development of systems” to track funds outside of the Recovery Act.
More generally, the RAT Board is using the data it collects to measure how expenditures correlate with a program’s progress, as well as “how agencies have done their jobs according to what they said they would originally,” Tighe said.
Last year, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, introduced legislation to create a “permanent successor” to the RAT Board, according to Issa’s website. The RAT Board sunsets at the end of September 2013.
The new board would be called the Federal Accountability and Spending Transparency Board — or FAST Board.
“Americans have the right to know what their government is doing with their money. Incompatible technologies, inaccurate data, and a lack of common standards impede transparency,” said Issa in a statement in June when he introduced the bill.
Tighe said the RAT Board has developed technology to collect and display information and to use data analytics that could be scaled for all federal spending.
“If we can do that, maybe it would be beneficial, cost-effective and a good idea to make us permanent,” she said.
Tom Temin is the host of The Federal Drive, which airs from 6-8 a.m. on 1500 AM in the Washington, D.C. region and online everywhere. Tom has 30 years experience in journalism, mostly in technology markets. Before coming to Federal News Radio, he was a long-serving editor-in-chief of Government Computer News and Washington Technology magazines.