Federal Manager's Daily Report

Pilot simplified reporting for grants, but not contractors.

An OMB pilot project conducted under the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, or DATA Act, for developing recommendations for reducing reporting burdens on federal grantees and contractors fulfilled its goal regarding the former but not the latter, GAO has said.

The pilot, known as the Section 5 Pilot, examined six possible approaches for reducing grantee reporting burdens and found positive results related to reductions in reporting time as well as reduced duplication. The lead agency, HHS, “incorporated ongoing stakeholder input during the pilot, and its findings contributed to government-wide initiatives related to federal reporting and reducing grantee-reporting burden,” GAO said.

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However, the contracts portion, conducted by OMB itself with assistance from the GSA, “did not collect sufficient evidence to determine whether centralizing procurement reporting through a single web-based portal would reduce contractor reporting burden–a key objective of the pilot.” It failed in its goal to collect certain data under the Davis-Bacon Act due to “lack of contractor participation and the absence of iterative and ongoing stakeholder engagement.”

“Subsequently, OMB expanded the pilot to include hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) reporting but received only 11 HFC submissions,” GAO said. “In addition, HFC reporting was not suited for assessing changes in reporting burden because it was a new requirement and thus no comparative data existed.”

“OMB plans to expand its use of the portal for additional procurement reporting requirements but still does not have information from stakeholders that could help inform the expansion,” it added, saying that OMB neither agreed nor disagreed with its recommendation that it ensure that information is collected regarding how centralized reporting of procurement requirements might reduce recipient reporting burden.