10 lessons to pull back the veil on government spending

The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board oversaw the spending and tracking of money from the 2010 economic stimulus law, and it impressed many people inside government and outside. Now, it's the model for the future.

Early Devaney, chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, has 10 lessons for lawmakers to piggyback off the work of his board and expand it to a governmentwide and continuous operation toward transparency in government.

That board oversaw the spending and tracking of money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and it impressed many people inside government and outside. Now, the White House is attempting a strategy to make government more open about spending based on the board model, and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) introduced a bill on June 13 to do much of the same things as that board .

Devaney is scheduled to testify before Issa and his Oversight and Government Reform Committee on transparency in government.

Directly from written testimony for the June 14 hearing, Devaney lays out lessons that could lead to a successful bill and more transparency.

1. Nothing motivates bureaucrats to act faster than a law with concrete deadlines.

2. Spending data can be collected directly from recipients with a high degree of accuracy.

3. This spending data can be quickly quality controlled, displayed, and uniquely arrayed to achieve unprecedented levels of transparency.

4. The federal government desperately needs a uniform, governmentwide alphanumeric numbering system for all awards.

5. New technology, particularly cloud computing and geospatial Web services, play a critical role in the delivery and effectiveness of transparency and accountability.

6. Transparency can cause embarrassment, which in turn causes self-correcting behavior.

7. Transparency is the force-multiplier that drives accountability.

8. When the goal is prevention, instead of merely detection, agencies and [inspectors general] both have a high degree of incentive to collaborate with each other.

9. The most valuable accountability module is one which provides equal access to both agencies and enforcers.

10. Finally, articulating success for prevention is harder to do than for detection.

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