Notice & Comment

A Complete Picture of Federal Spending

Getting information about federal spending–a key consideration in policymaking–just got a whole lot easier.  The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act) required federal agencies to use a standardized data format to report spending information.  The goal was to make the information more readily available and useful, thereby improving transparency and oversight.  The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Treasury Department were tasked with implementing the law.

Today, meeting a deadline established by the DATA Act, the Treasury Department released the results: all federal government spending in a single, unified dataset.  The Data Coalition, a non-profit organization that has worked towards this goal for years, tells the whole story here.  As they explain:

Until today, if you wanted to view the federal government’s account balances, you would have to file a Freedom of Information Act request with every agency. Even if you did that, you wouldn’t be able to figure out which grants and contracts were paid from which accounts.

But today, every agency is linking its accounts, budget actions, grants, and contracts together, showing which grants and contracts are paid from where. Here’s an interactive picture of it all. And here’s the data set, ready to download. Try it!

The website is still in Beta, with changes and improvements promised over the summer.  It will be very interesting to see how this continues to evolve and how administrators, politicians, scholars, and the public use the data.  If you use it, please email me and tell me what you think!