Ever wonder what newspapers your representative in the House subscribes to? Or how many staffers your member has hired, and how much they’re paid? How much the House spends on computers, office supplies and travel? Want to know what the House Appropriations Committee—which writes the bills that spend over a trillion dollars—paid for Deer Park bottled water?
The answers to all those questions and more can be found in the House Expenditure Reports database, parsed from PDF files containing quarterly Statement of Disbursements posted by the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer. The database contains records for all offices—members of Congress, legislative offices (like the House Clerk’s Office) and House committees. Sunlight had long advocated for these reports to be available online, and applauded the House when it first posted them in November 2009.
Note that the data has not been standardized (meaning that "AT&T" might also appear as "A.T.&T."), so aggregation on the “Payee” and “Recip” fields may not return complete totals.
Before you dig into the data to find out how the House spends its own money, check out this slideshow from a Sunlight training webinar on how to navigate the database. You should also read this post that explains discrepancies with how the House reports lawmakers' spending, and gives guidelines on how to use the data. For some examples of how this data can be used, check out Sunlight's analyses of congressional capacity during reduced operating budgets and staff turnover among members' offices.
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