Special Report: DOE-OIG-20-05

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November 6, 2019

Followup on the Department of Energy’s Implementation of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014

The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act) requires Federal agencies to report on financial and non-financial data in accordance with standards established by the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  Agency reported data is made available to the public and other stakeholders on USASpending.gov, a website operated by Treasury in consultation with OMB.  In January 2017, agencies began reporting on 57 data definition elements published by Treasury and OMB, such as obligation amounts and legal entity addresses.  The DATA Act requires each Office of Inspector General (OIG) to report on the completeness, timeliness, quality, and accuracy of data submitted by the cognizant agency.

In July 2018, the Government Accountability Office reported that nearly three-quarters of agencies submitted data that was not complete, accurate, or timely.  In addition, our previous report on the Department of Energy’s Implementation of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DOE-OIG-18-08, November 2017) determined that the overall quality of available Department of Energy information related to the DATA Act was negatively impacted by weaknesses in completeness, accuracy, and timeliness of information reported in the second quarter of fiscal year 2017.

We determined that the Department had made improvements to the quality of its data since our prior report was issued in 2017. However, the results of our current review may not be fully comparable to our prior audit due to a change in the methodologies outlined in the February 2019 CIGIE FAEC1 Inspectors General Guide to Compliance under the DATA Act (CIGIE Guide).  Using the methodology included in the CIGIE Guide, we determined that the overall quality of the Department’s data was high for the information reported in the first quarter of fiscal year 2019.  In particular, based on a sample of 332 transaction records (records) that included nearly 14,000 required data elements, our testing for completeness, accuracy, and timeliness revealed:

  • Ninety-two of 332 (28 percent) records contained at least 1 data element that was incomplete.  Most of these errors were not attributable to the Department. 
  • One hundred sixty-three of 332 (49 percent) records contained at least 1 data element that was not accurate.
  • Ninety-two of 332 (28 percent) records contained timeliness issues, and we determined that the projected error rate for timeliness related to the data elements supporting the records was approximately 1.7 percent4. Many of these errors were not attributable to the Department.

To improve the effectiveness of the Department’s DATA Act reporting, we made recommendations to the Deputy Chief Financial Officer.  Management concurred with our findings and recommendation.  Management’s planned corrective actions are responsive to our recommendations.

Topic: Management & Administration