introduction to the US spending awards -source of awards data


Introduction, available to the public at, is a government source
for data on federal grants, contracts, loans, and other financial assistance. The website enables
searching of federal awards from FY2008 to the present by state, congressional district (CD),
county, city, and zip code. Grant awards include money the federal government commits for
projects in states, local jurisdictions, regions, territories, and tribal reservations, as well as
payments for eligible needs to help individuals and families. Contract awards refer to bids and
agreements the federal government makes for specific goods and services. also provides tools for examining the broader picture of federal spending
obligations within the categories of budget function, agency, and object class. Budget function
refers to the major purpose that the spending serves, such as Social Security, Medicare, and
national defense. Object class refers to the type of item or service purchased by the federal
government, such as grants, contracts, and personnel compensation and benefits.
For Congress, the ability to more accurately track these federal awards is necessary to better
inform oversight of federal spending. In recent years, Congress has passed laws to create and
improve systems used by government departments and agencies to report and input data on
federal awards for contracts, grants, and other financial assistance:
 P.L. 109-282, the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006

called for the creation of a database that became
The publicly available database replaced data collection and annual reports
issued for more than 30 years in the Census Bureau’s Federal Aid to States (FAS)
report and Consolidated Federal Funds Report (CFFR).1
 P.L. 111-5, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA),
required federal agencies awarding stimulus funding and state and local
recipients of such funding to report spending back to the ARRA Recovery Board;
this reporting also became a part of
 P.L. 113-101, the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA
Act), transferred responsibility for from the Office of
Management and Budget (OMB) to the Department of the Treasury and required
that expenditures data be added to the federal agency obligations data already
included in the database. The DATA Act also required
Treasury and OMB to develop government-wide data standardization to facilitate
consolidating, automating, and simplifying reports on grant awards and contracts
and to improve underreporting and inconsistencies.
Congress has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with multiple pieces of legislation providing
relief to individuals and families, state and local governments, businesses, and health care
2 provides several features through which users can explore COVID19 award data, including a COVID-19 profile page and specific search filters. The Pandemic

1 Congress subsequently defunded the Census office that issued these reports in FY2012, with FY2010 Federal Aid to
States (FAS) report and Consolidated Federal Funds Report (CFFR) being the last reports issued.
2 Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 (P.L. 116-123); Families First
Coronavirus Response Act (P.L. 116-127); Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act; P.L.
116-136); Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (P.L. 116-139); Consolidated
Appropriations Act, 2021 (Divisions M and N; P.L. 116-260); and American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (P.L. 117-7).
Tracking Federal Awards: and Other Data Sources
Congressional Research Service 2
Response Accountability Committee (PRAC;, a new federal entity created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act
(CARES Act; P.L. 116-136), also presents COVID-19 funding data through a variety of visual
3 For more information on accessing COVID-19 funding data through, PRAC, and other sources, see CRS Report R46491, Resources for Tracking
Federal COVID-19 Spending.
Additional search filters to enable tracking awards made through the Infrastructure Investment
and Jobs Act (P.L. 117-58) have also been added to
Finding accurate and complete data on federal funds received by states and congressional districts
continues to be challenging due to ongoing data quality issues originally identified by the
Government Accountability Office (GAO) in June 2014. 

4 A GAO report released in July 2022
presents a review of reports by 57 Offices of Inspectors General (OIGs) on the quality of their
agencies’ spending data. According to GAO’s findings, while most OIGs (45 of 57) reported that
their agencies’ data were of excellent or higher quality, some found that there was room for
improvement in terms of completeness, timeliness, and accuracy. Most (44 of 57) made
recommendations to help improve the quality of their agencies’ data.5 Users of
should be aware that although search results may be useful for informing consideration of certain
questions, these results may also be incomplete or contain inaccuracies. Background
FFATA required OMB to create a public database of all federal funds awarded to the final
recipient level. The DATA Act followed eight years later and required the Department of the
Treasury and OMB to develop government-wide data standardization to consolidate, automate,

 and simplify reports on grant awards and contracts to improve underreporting and inconsistencies
as identified by GAO. These requirements in the DATA Act were intended to expand on the
transparency efforts originally mandated by FFATA, specifically by
 disclosing direct agency expenditures and linking federal contract, loan, and
grant spending information to federal agency programs;
 establishing government-wide data standards for financial data and providing
consistent, reliable, and searchable data that are displayed accurately;
 simplifying reporting, streamlining reporting requirements, and reducing
compliance costs, while improving transparency; and

3 For more information on PRAC, see CRS Insight IN11343, The Pandemic Response Accountability Committee:
Organization and Duties, by Ben Wilhelm.
4 The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) “estimates with 95 percent confidence that between 2 percent and
7 percent of the awards contained information that was fully consistent with agencies’ records for all 21 data elements
examined.” See GAO Highlights, Data Transparency: Oversight Needed to Address Underreporting and
Inconsistencies on Federal Award Website, GAO-14-476, June 2014, at
5 GAO, Federal Spending Transparency: 

OIGs Identified a Variety of Issues with the Quality of Agencies’ Data
Submissions GAO-22-105427, July 2022 at See also the July 2022
blog entry on GAO’s site, “Federal Spending Data Quality—Is This As Good As It Gets? Auditors Say It Can Be
Better” at
Tracking Federal Awards: and Other Data Sources
Congressional Research Service 3
 improving the quality of data submitted to by holding
agencies accountable.6
In addition, no later than four years after enactment (by spring 2018), Treasury and OMB were to
ensure that all information published on conforms to government-wide data
standards. OMB is also required to issue guidance so that all agencies can follow governmentwide data standards when reporting on grantee and contractor awards.
Types and Timing of Data
The data in are submitted by federal agencies and represent award obligations,
including for grants, contracts, loans, and other financial assistance (e.g., Social Security benefits,
food stamps, housing assistance). Obligations are commitments made by the federal government
to spend funds and do not represent actual outlays. also does not include data
on spending by award recipients. Federal agencies are required to submit reports on awards
transactions within 30 days after transactions are implemented. There may be a longer lag-time
with data from the Department of Defense, generally 90 days.
Site Features enables congressional staff and the public to search back to FY2008 for prime
and subaward data by state, congressional district, and other jurisdictions. The site includes the
following features:
 Advanced Award Search of prime and subaward data back to FY2008 allows
filtering by award type, awarding agency, recipient, country, state, zip, county,
city, CD, and other criteria. To identify where money is being spent, search on
Place of Performance versus Recipient Location. Search results include awards
that are active during the selected fiscal year, regardless of when the award
initially started. Details on an individual award, including transaction history and
subawards, may be viewed by clicking on the Award ID.

 The Time, Map, and
Categories tabs above the search results allow users to view aggregated award
transactions data from different perspectives. The results list displayed can be
downloaded at either the award or transaction level, along with additional details
about each award, into a spreadsheet. The advanced search is continually being
developed and improved, so new features may have become available since the
publication of this report.
 Spending Explorer enables “big picture” browsing of federal spending
obligations and offers interactive data visualization by budget function, agency,
and object class. With this tool, users can see the budget function breakdown by
categories, such as Social Security, Medicare, and national defense; obligated
amounts by agency; and obligations by object class categories, such as grants,
contracts, and personnel compensation and benefits.
 Profiles Tab includes the following subtabs:
 Agencies features data on each agency’s total budgetary resources, the total
amount that has been obligated (or committed to be spent) against those
budgetary resources, and the amount the agency has obligated for awards.

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