A report published by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on Tuesday found government agencies incorrectly reported spending and, at times, did not report their expenditures to USAspending.gov, the official source of federal spending information.
The Departments of Treasury, Health and Human Services (HHS), Homeland Security (DHS) and Transportation (DOT) were flagged by GAO for having multi-billion dollar discrepancies across different public COVID-19 spending disclosures during the 2022 fiscal year.
GAO recommended that Congress delegate power to Treasury and the Office of Management and Budget to independently determine which agencies are required to report and to “oversee the completeness of reporting by all required agencies.”
“If Congress or the Office of Management and Budget, in coordination with the Department of the Treasury, do not take recommended steps to improve the quality and reporting of data, USAspending.gov will not provide policymakers and the public with transparency over all funds federal agencies spend, as required,” GAO told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Treasury had the greatest discrepancy in COVID-19 spending across its different public reports. The department denoted $231.5 billion in COVID-19 spending in its annual financial report and only reported $36 billion on USAspending.
HHS had the second worst discrepancy. The agency’s annual financial report listed $85.7 billion in COVID-19 obligations while reporting $91.7 billion on USAspending.
Other discrepancies were comparably mild.
DHS reported about $400 million more in its annual budget report compared to its entries on USAspending, and DOT had a discrepancy of about $10 million.
The entries were “unlinked,” meaning they contained incomplete information. Entries would sometimes feature the amount of spending, but not a description of what the funds were being spent on, for instance.
“Quality federal spending data are key for Congress, federal managers, and the American public to track taxpayers’ dollars,” GAO wrote in the conclusion of its report. “We found agencies that either did not report spending data or reported inconsistent spending data to USAspending.gov, including for COVID-19 funds. By assigning Treasury the responsibility for determining which agencies should report to USAspending.gov and requiring that agencies report OTA data, Congress can help improve the completeness and usefulness of data on the website for decision-making and accountability purposes.”
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