It’s a little late, but it’s here! We’ve released an updated version of Clearspending with data that spans from 2009 to 2011. Unfortunately, it comes fresh off the heels of the Senate’s failure to pass the DATA Act, which would have dramatically expanded and improved federal spending reporting. We’re hopeful the DATA Act will get a second chance this Congress, especially since Clearspending’s results show that USASpending.gov’s problems with consistency, timeliness and completeness are ever-present.
As outlined in our methodology, Clearspending measures the grant spending in USASpending.gov across three metrics: consistency, completeness, and timeliness. Here’s a quick breakdown of the overall failing dollar amounts (and rates) across all three metrics (without double counting dollars that failed for multiple metrics) for 2009-2011:
|Fiscal Year||Failed Obligations||Total Obligations||Percent Failed|
Note that just because a dollar failed doesn’t mean that the government doesn’t know where that money is. But it does mean that there is at least one problem with how the government reports this spending on the public facing site. And that is the main point of USASpending.gov — to be the publicly searchable version of federal spending that the public can use to hold government accountable. It deserves to be just as accurate as the information included on a federal audit.
You can still drill down by agency and program to see where the specific reporting problems lie. One new feature we’ve added this year is some slick D3 interactive graphics for each of the three metrics (consistency, completeness and timeliness).