Long Overdue Action to Protect Taxpayer Money

Every year, report after report is cranked out concluding the same thing – too many federal government programs are inefficient, costly, ineffective or all of the above.

And yet, year after year, these conclusions are largely ignored. As a consequence, billions of dollars are wasted while many programs continue to operate without concrete goals or standards. I want to put an end to this cycle of fiscal failure and save your hard-earned tax dollars from waste – while also protecting middle-class priorities.

That’s why the first bill I introduced after taking office attacks wasteful spending and helps ensure government programs are more economical, efficient and effective. Building on that effort, I partnered with U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk on a bipartisan idea to cut duplicative services. Most recently, I teamed up with Republican Congressman Chris Gibson on legislation that would put an end to the outrageous payment of tax dollars to deceased people.

However, one major impediment to cutting wasteful spending has been the lack of a single, reliable resource to track federal government spending. The need to bring accountability and transparency to federal spending was brought to the forefront in 2012, when it was revealed that the General Services Administration excessively spent more than $800,000 on a lavish training conference in Las Vegas.

I believe strongly that the public deserves to know how their money is being spent, which is why I was so encouraged that both parties came together recently to pass a bill that will make government spending information transparent and available for all to see on a single website.

The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, or DATA, requires that federal spending be posted to USASpending.gov, which will become a one-stop, searchable website detailing all federal spending and awards. This will add accountability to spending decisions made by government agencies by empowering American citizens, who can play a vital role in preventing wasteful spending.

While the DATA act won’t solve our spending problems overnight, it creates a powerful new tool that will bring transparency and accountability to government spending. And perhaps more importantly, it shows the American people that governing in practical, common sense and reasonable ways is possible in Washington.

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos represents Illinois’ 17th Congressional District.