Issues with Tracking Awards of US government

 Issues with Tracking Awards
In addition to the data quality problems in mentioned earlier,
the following
issues should be taken into consideration.
Recipient Location Versus Place of Performance
As recipients of federal grant funding, state and local governments may provide services directly
to beneficiaries. Alternatively, a state may act as a pass-through, redisbursing federal grant
funding to localities using a formula or a competitive process9
through subgrants or subcontracts.
Both federal grant and procurement awards thus may have a where awarded vs. where spent
component that is not fully identified in grant or procurement records.
For example, most federal grant funding is awarded to states, which then subaward or subcontract
to eligible recipients elsewhere in the state (see Figure 1). So, a project’s place of performance
(where the award is spent) may therefore differ from the initial recipient location (where the
funding is awarded).

7 See CRS Report R46491, Resources for Tracking Federal COVID-19 Spending, by Jennifer Teefy and Maria Kreiser
for more information.
8 For examples of the data quality problems GAO has identified in, see the GAO website at, particularly the search term and the headers Data Act, Data Transparency or
Federal Spending Transparency.

 9 See CRS Report R42769, Federal Grants-in-Aid Administration: A Primer, by Natalie Keegan.
Tracking Federal Awards: and Other Data Sources
Congressional Research Service 5
Figure 1. Examples of Federal Spending Streams
Recipients at Multiple Levels
Sources: Jerry Brito, George Washington University, 2009; and the Congressional Research Service, 2016.
In addition, a funding award may pass through multiple different jurisdictions (in different CDs)
before reaching the final place of performance. For example
 Federal grants may go first to the state (the state capital, in one CD), then be
distributed to a city or county government (in one or more additional CDs),
which then may pass the funds to an organization that spends the money in other
CDs. A CD in which a state capital is located may appear to receive more federal
funds than other CDs in the state, but searching data by place
of performance rather than recipient location would identify data by the project
 Procurement awards may be given to a corporation headquartered in one state
(and one CD), but the company may spend the money manufacturing the
purchased product at one or more of its manufacturing facilities in one or more
additional states (and CDs).
Congressional District Data
The advanced award search enables filtering by state and congressional
district. When searching for CD data, note the following:
 For grants and contracts data in CDs, search by place of
performance rather than recipient location to identify awards by project location
(see “Recipient Location Versus Place of Performance,” above).
 Use caution when comparing CD data over time. During decennial redistricting, 

CD borders and numbers may change, but past data are not revised to account for
redistricting. For example, comparing data from the 115th or 114th Congress with
earlier data must take into account new district borders created by the 2010
decennial redistricting. Other geographic search options, such as by zip code or
county, could be used to track funds within a CD, although borders may not
exactly align.
Tracking Federal Awards: and Other Data Sources
Congressional Research Service 6
 CDs that include state capitals will appear to receive more federal funds because
states are prime recipients of federal block and formula grants. State
Administering Agencies (SAAs) then pass through or subaward federal funding
for projects throughout the state.
Other Data Sources
Federal Procurement Data System
The General Services Administration (GSA) maintains the Federal Procurement Data System
(FPDS) at, which contains information on
federal contract awards. FPDS
 serves as the source of contracts data;
 contains information on contract awards with estimated value of $10,000 or
more; and
 provides basic search capabilities.
Information on data included in FPDS is provided through the site’s FAQs at
Current and historical FPDS federal procurement data reports can be generated from the System
for Award Management (SAM) site at Static procurement
reports on various topics are also available on this site.
For more refined searching, such as by CD, the FPDS Help Desk can guide congressional staff
and the public through filtering for data needed (called ad hoc reports).

 Federal Audit Clearinghouse
States, local governments, and nonprofits (including universities) spending $750,000 or more10 in
federal grants during a fiscal year are required to submit an audit detailing expenditures. Data
from the audits are posted on the Census Bureau’s Federal Audit Clearinghouse site, at No printed documents are produced.
 Because the audit data are for the fiscal year of the filing agency or organization
(which may differ from the federal fiscal year), they are not comparable with data
from any other federal source.
 Searches may be conducted by organization or institution, Catalog of Federal
Domestic Assistance (CFDA) program number, and geographic location (by city
or state but not by congressional district). See search options at
U.S. Budget: Aid to State and Local Governments
The Analytical Perspectives volume of the President’s budget covers various topics, including
“Aid to State and Local Governments” (Chapter 14 in the FY2023 report).11 Federal financial

10 For fiscal years prior to December 26, 2014, the threshold was $500,000 (
11 OMB, “Chapter 14: Aid to State and Local Governments,” Analytical Perspectives: Budget of the U.S. Government,
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Congressional Research Service 7
assistance to state and local governments, U.S. territories, and American Indian tribal
governments is intended to help fund programs administered by those entities and is primarily
administered as grants. Most often federal grants are awarded as direct cash assistance, 

federal grants can also include in-kind assistance—non-monetary aid, such as commodities
purchased for the National School Lunch Program—and Federal revenues or assets shared with
state and local governments.
The FY2023 budget proposes $1 trillion in outlays for aid to state and local governments, a
decrease of roughly 16% from spending in 2022.
13 Individual program tables with state-by-state
obligation data for grants-in-aid programs to state and local governments may be found on the
OMB website. Tables 14-3 through 14-61 show state-by-state obligations for 57 federal grants-inaid programs.
Federal grants generally fall into one of two broad categories—categorical grants or block grants,
depending on the requirements of the grant program. In addition, grants may be characterized by
how the funding is awarded, such as by formula, by project, 

or by matching state and local funds.
As recipients of federal grant funding, state and local governments may provide services directly
to beneficiaries or states may act as a pass-through, disbursing grant funding to localities using a
formula or a competitive process.15 As discussed above, this pass-through, or subawarding, at the
state level makes tracking federally originated funds to the final recipient a challenge.

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