- Status Report
- Nov 20, 2023
NASA OIG: NASA’s Fiscal Year 2020 Digital Accountability and Transparency Act Submission
WHY WE PERFORMED THIS AUDIT
The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act) was enacted to expand and improve oversight of federal spending, which in fiscal year (FY) 2020 totaled over $6.5 trillion. To increase transparency, the DATA Act requires the Office of Management and Budget and the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) to establish government-wide data standards that provide consistent, reliable, and searchable data for any federal funds made available to, or expended by, federal agencies. Agencies are responsible for submitting complete and accurate financial and award data to USAspending.gov, a publicly accessible government website that tracks federal spending. To increase accountability, the DATA Act also required that Inspectors General issue three reports (one every two years) on the completeness, accuracy, timeliness, and quality of their agency’s data, and on their agency’s implementation and use of government-wide data standards. We previously issued two reports to meet our requirements under the Act:
• In November 2017, our first report found NASA’s FY 2017, second quarter submission was complete, timely, and properly used the DATA Act standards; however, we identified minor errors with the accuracy and quality of the data.
• In November 2019, our second report found NASA’s FY 2019, first quarter submission was complete and timely, properly used the DATA Act standards, and that the record-level data met the standard for higher quality despite errors in timeliness, accuracy, and completeness.
In this third and final DATA Act audit, we assessed (1) the completeness, accuracy, timeliness, and overall quality of NASA’s FY 2020, fourth quarter financial and award data totaling nearly $5.6 billion that was submitted to Treasury for posting to USAspending.gov; and (2) NASA’s implementation and use of the required data standards. To conduct this work, we reviewed applicable laws and regulations, interviewed NASA personnel, and performed audit steps, sampling, and analysis according to guidance provided by the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE).
WHAT WE FOUND
We assessed the Agency’s data for timeliness, accuracy, and completeness using non-statistical and statistical testing. According to the standards established by CIGIE, data quality is considered “Excellent” if the Agency’s total score on the quality scorecard is 95 points or higher. Based on the results of our non-statistical and statistical testing of NASA’s DATA Act submission for the fourth quarter of FY 2020, the Agency’s financial and award data scored 95.5 points for a quality rating of Excellent.
However, despite this high rating we identified errors that affected the timeliness, accuracy, and completeness of the data similar to those we identified in our prior reviews. Specifically, procurement information was not entered into source systems in accordance with the timeline established by the Federal Acquisition Regulation. Additionally, we identified inaccuracies in the tested transactions attributable to manual input errors. Finally, we identified errors in the completeness and accuracy of the data due to contracting officials not verifying procurement information in the Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation. These errors increase the risk that untimely, inaccurate, and incomplete data will be uploaded to USAspending.gov, decreasing the reliability and usefulness of the data published on the public website.
WHAT WE RECOMMENDED
To improve the accuracy and completeness of NASA’s DATA Act submissions, we made two recommendations in addition to addressing previous DATA Act audit recommendations that remain open to the Assistant Administrator for Procurement: (1) provide training to contracting officers to ensure consistent understanding of the DATA Act Information Model Schema data element definitions and requirements; and (2) correct the incomplete and inaccurate award data identified in this audit. We provided a draft of this report to NASA management who concurred with our recommendations and described actions they plan to take to address them. We consider management’s comments to our recommendations responsive; therefore, the recommendations are resolved and will be closed upon completion and verification of the proposed corrective actions.