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Tag Archive: Social Security number

The Story from OMB Watch’s Point of View

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Yesterday, we told you (and the New York Times published a longer article) that USDA published the Social Security numbers of individuals who receive federal aid in a publicly available online database of government grants. That information was inadvertantly pick up in a database that we funded -- FedSpending.org. The database, which details government grants and contracts in a user friendly way was developed by OMB Watch. It's a hugely popular database -- during the month of March, there were roughly 1 million searches made. (That's not visitors or hits, that's 1 million people looking up stuff.)

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USDA Puts Aid Recipients’ Social Security Numbers Online

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For almost a decade, some divisions of the Department of Agriculture published the Social Security numbers of individuals who receive federal aid in a publicly available online database of government grants. The Farm Service Agency and at least one other agency within Agriculture included the nine digit numbers as part of the tracking number assigned to each recipient of government assistance, called a Federal Award ID.

Those tracking numbers were then published in the Federal Assistance Awards Database System (FAADS), an online compendium of “all types of financial assistance awards made by federal agencies to all types of recipients,” which is updated quarterly. This database is generally used by experts and is not very user-friendly.

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