GRANT REPORTING EFFICIENCY AND AGREEMENTS TRANSPARENCY ACT OF 2019; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 8
(House of Representatives - January 15, 2019)

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[Pages H569-H572]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




   GRANT REPORTING EFFICIENCY AND AGREEMENTS TRANSPARENCY ACT OF 2019

  Mr. CUMMINGS. Madam Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the 
bill (H.R. 150) to modernize Federal grant reporting, and for other 
purposes.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows

                                H.R. 150

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``Grant Reporting Efficiency 
     and Agreements Transparency Act of 2019'' or the ``GREAT 
     Act''.

     SEC. 2. PURPOSES.

       The purposes of this Act are to--
       (1) modernize reporting by recipients of Federal grants and 
     cooperative agreements by creating and imposing data 
     standards for the information that grants and cooperative 
     agreement recipients must report to the Federal Government;
       (2) implement the recommendation by the Director of the 
     Office of Management and Budget, under section 5(b)(6) of the 
     Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 
     (31 U.S.C. 6101 note), which includes the development of a 
     ``comprehensive

[[Page H570]]

     taxonomy of standard definitions for core data elements 
     required for managing Federal financial assistance awards'';
       (3) reduce burden and compliance costs of recipients of 
     Federal grants and cooperative agreements by enabling 
     technology solutions, existing or yet to be developed, by 
     both the public and private sectors, to better manage data 
     recipients already provide to the Federal Government; and
       (4) to strengthen oversight and management of Federal 
     grants and cooperative agreements by agencies through 
     consolidated collection and display of and access to open 
     data that has been standardized, and where appropriate, 
     transparency to the public.

     SEC. 3. DATA STANDARDS FOR GRANT REPORTING.

       (a) Amendment.--Subtitle V of title 31, United States Code, 
     is amended by inserting after chapter 63 the following new 
     chapter:

            ``CHAPTER 64--DATA STANDARDS FOR GRANT REPORTING

     ``SEC. 6401. DEFINITIONS.

       ``In this chapter:
       ``(1) Agency.--The term `agency' has the meaning given that 
     term in section 552(f) of title 5.
       ``(2) Core data elements.--The term `core data elements' 
     means data elements that are not program-specific in nature 
     and are required by agencies for all or the vast majority of 
     Federal grant and cooperative assistance recipients for 
     purposes of reporting.
       ``(3) Director.--The term `Director' means the Director of 
     the Office of Management and Budget.
       ``(4) Federal award.--The term `Federal award'--
       ``(A) means the transfer of anything of value for a public 
     purpose of support or stimulation authorized by a law of the 
     United States, including financial assistance and Government 
     facilities, services, and property;
       ``(B) includes grants, subgrants, awards, and cooperative 
     agreements; and
       ``(C) does not include--
       ``(i) conventional public information services or 
     procurement of property or services for the direct benefit or 
     use of the Government; or
       ``(ii) an agreement that provides only--

       ``(I) direct Government cash assistance to an individual;
       ``(II) a subsidy;
       ``(III) a loan;
       ``(IV) a loan guarantee; or
       ``(V) insurance.

       ``(5) Secretary.--The term `Secretary' means the head of 
     the standard-setting agency.
       ``(6) Standard-setting agency.--The term `standard-setting 
     agency' means the Executive department designated under 
     section 6402(a)(1).
       ``(7) State.--The term `State' means each State of the 
     United States, the District of Columbia, each commonwealth, 
     territory or possession of the United States, and each 
     federally recognized Indian Tribe.

     ``SEC. 6402. DATA STANDARDS FOR GRANT REPORTING.

       ``(a) In General.--
       ``(1) Designation of standard-setting agency.--The Director 
     shall designate the Executive department (as defined in 
     section 101 of title 5) that issues the most Federal awards 
     in a calendar year as the standard-setting agency.
       ``(2) Establishment of standards.--Not later than 1 year 
     after the date of the enactment of this chapter, the 
     Secretary and the Director shall establish Governmentwide 
     data standards for information reported by recipients of 
     Federal awards.
       ``(3) Data elements.--The data standards established under 
     paragraph (2) shall include, at a minimum--
       ``(A) standard definitions for data elements required for 
     managing Federal awards; and
       ``(B) unique identifiers for Federal awards and entities 
     receiving Federal awards that can be consistently applied 
     Governmentwide.
       ``(b) Scope.--The data standards established under 
     subsection (a) shall include core data elements and may cover 
     any information required to be reported to any agency by 
     recipients of Federal awards, including audit-related 
     information reported under chapter 75 of this title.
       ``(c) Requirements.--The data standards required to be 
     established under subsection (a) shall, to the extent 
     reasonable and practicable--
       ``(1) render information reported by recipients of Federal 
     grant and cooperative agreement awards fully searchable and 
     machine-readable;
       ``(2) be nonproprietary;
       ``(3) incorporate standards developed and maintained by 
     voluntary consensus standards bodies;
       ``(4) be consistent with and implement applicable 
     accounting and reporting principles; and
       ``(5) incorporate the data standards established under the 
     Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 
     (31 U.S.C. 6101 note).
       ``(d) Consultation.--In establishing the data standards 
     under subsection (a), the Secretary and the Director shall 
     consult with, as appropriate--
       ``(1) the Secretary of the Treasury, to ensure that the 
     data standards incorporate the data standards created under 
     the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 
     2006 (31 U.S.C. 6101 note);
       ``(2) the head of each agency that issues Federal awards;
       ``(3) recipients of Federal awards and organizations 
     representing recipients of Federal awards;
       ``(4) private sector experts;
       ``(5) members of the public, including privacy experts, 
     privacy advocates, and industry stakeholders; and
       ``(6) State and local governments.

     ``SEC. 6403. GUIDANCE APPLYING DATA STANDARDS FOR GRANT 
                   REPORTING.

       ``(a) In General.--Not later than 2 years after the date of 
     the enactment of this chapter--
       ``(1) the Secretary and the Director shall issue guidance 
     to all agencies directing the agencies to apply the data 
     standards established under section 6402 to all applicable 
     reporting by recipients of Federal grant and cooperative 
     agreement awards; and
       ``(2) the Director shall prescribe guidance applying the 
     data standards to audit-related information reported under 
     chapter 75.
       ``(b) Guidance.--The guidance issued under this section 
     shall--
       ``(1) to the extent reasonable and practicable--
       ``(A) minimize the disruption to existing reporting 
     practices for agencies and for recipients of Federal grant 
     and cooperative agreement awards; and
       ``(B) explore opportunities to implement modern 
     technologies within Federal award reporting;
       ``(2) allow the Director to permit exceptions for 
     categories of grants if the Director publishes a list of such 
     exceptions, including exceptions for Indian Tribes and Tribal 
     organizations consistent with the Indian Self-Determination 
     and Education Assistance Act; and
       ``(3) take into consideration the consultation required 
     under section 6402(d).

     ``SEC. 6404. AGENCY REQUIREMENTS.

       ``Not later than 3 years after the date of the enactment of 
     this chapter, the head of each agency shall ensure that all 
     of the agency's grants and cooperative agreements use data 
     standards for all future information collection requests and 
     amend existing information collection requests covered by 
     chapter 35 of title 44 (commonly referred to as the Paperwork 
     Reduction Act) to comply with the data standards established 
     under section 6402, consistent with the guidance issued by 
     the Secretary and the Director under section 6403.''.
       (b) Technical and Conforming Amendment.--The table of 
     chapters for subtitle V of title 31, United States Code, is 
     amended by inserting after the item relating to chapter 63 
     the following new item:

``64. Data Standards for Grant Reporting 6401''.

     SEC. 4. SINGLE AUDIT ACT.

       (a) Amendments.--
       (1) Section 7502(h) of title 31, United States Code, is 
     amended by inserting before ``to a Federal clearinghouse'' 
     the following ``in an electronic form consistent with the 
     data standards established under chapter 64,''.
       (2) Section 7505 of title 31, United States Code, is 
     amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:
       ``(d) Such guidance shall require audit-related information 
     reported under this chapter to be reported in an electronic 
     form consistent with the data standards established under 
     chapter 64.''.
       (b) Guidance.--Not later than 2 years after the date of the 
     enactment of this Act, the Director shall issue guidance 
     requiring audit-related information reported under chapter 75 
     of title 31, United States Code, to be reported in an 
     electronic form consistent with the data standards 
     established under chapter 64 of title 31, United States Code, 
     as added by section 3.

     SEC. 5. CONSOLIDATION OF ASSISTANCE-RELATED INFORMATION; 
                   PUBLICATION OF PUBLIC INFORMATION AS OPEN DATA.

       (a) Collection of Information.--Not later than 4 years 
     after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary 
     and the Director shall enable the collection, public display, 
     and maintenance of Federal award information as a 
     Governmentwide data set, using the data standards established 
     under chapter 64 of title 31, United States Code, as added by 
     section 3, subject to reasonable restrictions established by 
     the Director to ensure protection of personally identifiable 
     and otherwise sensitive information.
       (b) Publication of Information.--The Secretary and the 
     Director shall require the publication of recipient-reported 
     data collected from all agencies on a single public portal. 
     Information may be published on an existing Governmentwide 
     website as determined appropriate by the Director.
       (c) FOIA.--Nothing in this section shall require the 
     disclosure to the public of information that would be exempt 
     from disclosure under section 552 of title 5, United States 
     Code (commonly known as the ``Freedom of Information Act'').

     SEC. 6. EVALUATION OF NONPROPRIETARY IDENTIFIERS.

       (a) Determination Required.--The Director and the Secretary 
     shall determine whether to use nonproprietary identifiers 
     under section 6402(a)(3)(B) of title 31, United States Code, 
     as added by section 3(a).
       (b) Factors To Be Considered.--In making the determination 
     required pursuant to subsection (a), the Director and the 
     Secretary shall consider factors such as accessibility and 
     cost to recipients of Federal awards, agencies that issue 
     Federal awards,

[[Page H571]]

     private-sector experts, and members of the public, including 
     privacy experts and privacy advocates.
       (c) Publication and Report on Determination.--Not later 
     than the earlier of 1 year after the date of the enactment of 
     this Act or the date on which the Secretary and Director 
     establish data standards pursuant to section 6402(a)(2) of 
     title 31, United States Code, as added by section 3(a), the 
     Secretary and the Director shall publish and submit to the 
     Committees on Oversight and Government Reform of the House of 
     Representatives and Homeland Security and Governmental 
     Affairs of the Senate a report explaining the reasoning for 
     the determination made pursuant to subsection (a).

     SEC. 7. DEFINITIONS.

       In this Act, the terms ``agency'', ``Director'', ``Federal 
     award'', and ``Secretary'' have the meaning given those terms 
     in section 6401 of title 31, United States Code, as added by 
     section 3(a).

     SEC. 8. RULE OF CONSTRUCTION.

       Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, 
     shall be construed to require the collection of data that is 
     not otherwise required pursuant to any Federal law, rule, or 
     regulation.

     SEC. 9. NO ADDITIONAL FUNDS AUTHORIZED.

       No additional funds are authorized to carry out the 
     requirements of this Act and the amendments made by this Act. 
     Such requirements shall be carried out using amounts 
     otherwise authorized.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Maryland (Mr. Cummings) and the gentlewoman from North Carolina (Ms. 
Foxx) each will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Maryland.


                             General Leave

  Mr. CUMMINGS. Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members 
may have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks 
and include extraneous material on H.R. 150, currently under 
consideration.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Maryland?
  There was no objection.

                              {time}  1345

  Mr. CUMMINGS. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume.
  Madam Speaker, the Grant Reporting Efficiency and Agreements 
Transparency Act, introduced by Representatives Virginia Foxx and   
Jimmy Gomez, would standardize reporting for recipients of Federal 
grants and cooperative agreements.
  Grant recipients often have to report the same information in 
different ways because Federal agencies do not use the same forms or 
even the same terms to describe required information.
  Madam Speaker, I have often said that the most important thing that 
we must do in our lives is to operate in an effective and efficient 
manner, and that also includes this Congress.
  Under this bill, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget 
and the Secretary of Health and Human Services would be required to 
establish governmentwide data standards for grant reporting--again, 
efficiency and effectiveness.
  The bill would encourage OMB and HHS to make the information that 
grant recipients report fully searchable and machine-readable. This 
would provide greater transparency into the money spent on the grants 
because spending data would be more usable.
  The bill also would require that data collected from grant recipients 
be published on a single public portal.
  Madam Speaker, I thank the distinguished gentlewoman, Ms. Foxx, for 
working with Representative Connolly last Congress on the use of 
nonproprietary identifiers for grants and grantees. She, too, has 
worked in a hard, bipartisan way to bring solutions to problems, to 
bring practical solutions to problems.
  The bill before us would allow this issue to be carefully considered 
to ensure it is workable.
  Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Ms. FOXX of North Carolina. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time 
as I may consume.
  Madam Speaker, I appreciate very much the comments made by my 
colleague from Maryland and appreciate particularly the emphasis this 
afternoon that has been placed on bipartisan bills and efficiency and 
effectiveness in the Federal Government. Those are values that should 
not be assigned to any particular party. They are important for our 
country. They are important for what we do.
  Madam Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman 
from Virginia (Mr. Cline), who has been waiting patiently to speak on 
this bill.
  Mr. CLINE. Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of H.R. 
150, the Grant Reporting Efficiency and Agreements Transparency Act.
  Madam Speaker, in 1788, Patrick Henry spoke at the Virginia 
Constitutional Convention, where he said: ``The liberties of a people 
never were, nor ever will be, secure when the transactions of their 
rulers may be concealed from them.''
  Transparency in government is an important principle for the 
preservation of our Republic, and it has been a priority for me during 
my tenure in the Virginia House of Delegates, where I was proud to 
sponsor legislation to put the entire State budget in a searchable 
online database.
  In a similar vein, H.R. 150 would require that data on more than $600 
billion in Federal grants be standardized and published on a single 
online portal.
  This is bipartisan legislation that would modernize the way the 
Federal Government does business by simplifying grant reporting 
information into a searchable, more manageable system.
  Nonprofit, State and local governments, and small businesses will no 
longer be forced to spend meaningful work hours on filling out 
duplicative paperwork.
  In return, this will not only make the grant reporting process more 
transparent but will make it more efficient and accessible to everyday 
Americans, thus saving taxpayer dollars and helping to fulfill the 
vision of another Virginian, Thomas Jefferson, who in his first 
inaugural said: ``A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain 
men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to 
regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not 
take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum 
of good government.''
  Madam Speaker, I support this bill and urge its passage.
  Mr. CUMMINGS. Madam Speaker, we have no further speakers, and I 
reserve the balance of my time.
  Ms. FOXX of North Carolina. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time 
as I may consume.
  Madam Speaker, I appreciate the gentleman from Virginia sharing his 
comments with us, and I would like to continue my remarks by thanking 
Representative   Jimmy Gomez for helping author this piece of 
legislation, the Grant Reporting Efficiency and Agreements Transparency 
Act, or GREAT Act.
  Representative Gomez has been an outstanding partner on this 
bipartisan bill to create more transparency, efficiency, and 
accountability in the Federal grant reporting process, and I thank him 
for his hard work.
  Madam Speaker, in 2017, the Federal Government awarded $662.7 billion 
in grants funding to State agencies, local and Tribal governments, 
agencies, nonprofits, universities, and organizations. This is a lot of 
hardworking tax dollars, even in terms of Washington-speak.
  Within our Federal Government, there are 26 agencies awarding Federal 
grants, and all of them continue to rely on outdated, burdensome, 
document-based forms to collect and track grant dollars. Society has 
moved into a new age of information and technology, and it is time that 
our government follows suit.
  The GREAT Act represents bipartisan legislation to modernize the 
Federal grant reporting process. It does so by mandating a standardized 
data structure for information that recipients report to Federal 
agencies.
  Unless the reporting requirements for Federal grants are searchable, 
the auditing process will continue to yield waste and inefficiency at 
best, and potentially fraud and abuse at worst.

  Adopting a governmentwide open data structure for all the information 
grantees report will alleviate compliance burdens; provide instant 
insights for grantor agencies and Congress; and enable easy access to 
data for oversight, analytics, and program evaluation.
  Digitizing and, therefore, automating the reporting process would 
have a twofold effect. First, it allows grantees to maximize every 
dollar they receive

[[Page H572]]

from the taxpayers to ensure it goes back into communities, supporting 
local businesses, organizations, and education.
  Lastly, the GREAT Act has received broad support from an array of 
good government groups. The coalition endorsing the GREAT Act includes 
the Bipartisan Policy Center, American Association of Law Libraries, 
American Library Association, Association of Government Accountants, 
Association of Research Libraries, Data Coalition, Demand Progress, 
Government Accountability Project, Government Information Watch, Grant 
Professionals Association, National Grants Management Association, 
National Taxpayers Union, Native American Finance Officers Association, 
the Project on Government Oversight, R Street Institute, Senior 
Executives Association, and the Scholarly Publishing and Academic 
Resources Coalition.
  In order to fix the way Federal grants are reported, we must move 
from a document-centric reporting system to a data superhighway. I urge 
my colleagues in the House and Senate to support the GREAT Act and 
bring grant reporting into the 21st century.
  Madam Speaker, again, I urge my colleagues to support the bill, and I 
reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. CUMMINGS. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume.
  Madam Speaker, this bill is intended to reduce the burden on 
applicants for Federal grants by enabling a more streamlined electronic 
process for completing grant applications. It would require HHS and OMB 
to develop uniform data standards for common application elements, such 
as the name and address of the organization and the name of the grant.
  This will, hopefully, lead to the development of a uniform grant 
application that could be used across all Federal agencies. That would 
improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the grant application 
process immensely.
  Madam Speaker, I urge all Members to support this measure, and I hope 
that the Senate will quickly pass it.
  Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Ms. FOXX of North Carolina. Madam Speaker, we have no further 
speakers.
  Madam Speaker, I urge my colleagues again, along with Mr. Cummings, 
to support this bill, and I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. CUMMINGS. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume.
  Madam Speaker, I again thank Ms. Foxx for this very important 
legislation and all of the bipartisan efforts that made it happen.
  This bill and the others that we have dealt with today, where there 
was such great bipartisanship to get it done, I hope that we will take 
these as a model of what this Congress can do.
  Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Cummings) that the House suspend the rules 
and pass the bill, H.R. 150.
  The question was taken.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds 
being in the affirmative, the ayes have it.
  Mr. CUMMINGS. Madam Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.
  The yeas and nays were ordered.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX, further 
proceedings on this motion will be postponed.

                          ____________________