Digging into recovery.gov data


We’re playing with the new stimulus data released last week on the Recovery.gov Web site – analyzing the data, trying to find out which states are receiving the most money and what kinds of projects are receiving the most money. Data on contracts can be downloaded from FPDS site and the grants and loans from the USAspending Web site.

Although there is an easy way of downloading contracts data from FPDS, those wanting either grants or loans data will have to rely on the USASpending site, which allows downloads of slices of the data, from each agency or state. Unless users know how to work with the XML version, running aggregate functions on the data to get to the bigger picture such as the total spent by all the agencies in a specific state would be challenging and time consuming.

Also, the grants, loans and contracts cannot be put together to see, for example, which state is getting the most dollars through the Recovery Act. Most of the loans and the grants that are disbursed are given by federal agencies to states–for example, say the Dept. of Transportation gives a grant to Virginia for $10 million to build highways.Most often (but not always), the states award that grant money through contracts, which show up in the contract data in Recovery.gov. Combining grant and contract data would lead to counting some of the money twice, giving a state give highly inflated numbers.

So far, other than playing around with the maps and search by zip code feature, I find the text view in the “See where the money is going” page to be the most useful. With this you can drill down and get more information about a single contract or grant including details about the project, each transaction and other contracts or grants the recipient has received.