May 27, 2015
Tracking Federal Funds to States and Congressional Districts
Finding accurate data on federal funds received by states
and congressional districts (CD) may present challenges.
The official website USAspending.gov is available to the
public at http://www.USAspending.gov and posts federal
agency-submitted data on obligations, including grants,
loans, assistance, and contracts. The database will
eventually include Treasury Department expenditures data.
A redesigned website was launched in March 2015 and
includes the following:
Figure 1. Federal Grant Dollars, FY2000-FY2015
Largest Percentage goes to State, Local Governments
• USAspending.gov homepage enables search by
Recipient, Awards in Your Neighborhood (by zip code),
and Awards by State for the most current FY.
• Where Is the Money Going, Spending Map option
enables filtering by state, zip, county, CD, and agency.
Summary listings of recipients may be displayed one
fiscal year at a time back to FY2008. Details of an
individual transaction may be viewed by doubleclicking on the Award ID. Data from transactions
displayed may not be downloaded.
• Advanced Data Search of prime and sub-award data
allows filtering by various criteria, including CD.
Generally, search place of performance (where project
is located) over recipient location. Results Summary is
given and summary data may be downloaded.
Source: USAspending.gov, Trends, Type of Recipients, FY2000-2015.
Figure 2. State Administering Agencies (SAAs)
Sub-grant or Sub-contract Federal Funds
• Download Center allows export of full transaction
details. Filters limit searches by department or agency
(or All), state, and fiscal year back to FY2000. CD is
indicated in column BJ or AH in spreadsheets.
• State-level data include formula and block grant funds
(80%-90% of federal grant funding, see Figure 1) that
may be passed through to local jurisdictions or subawarded through sub-grants, contracts, or subcontracts
(see Figure 2).
• Congressional District data may be incomplete or
inaccurate when comparing several years. Over time,
many CD boundaries can change with decennial
redistricting, or CD numbers can change. CDs that
include state capitals will appear to receive more federal
funds because state administering agencies (SAAs) pass
through funds under block and formula grants for
projects throughout the state. Select place of
performance in Advanced Data Search or Download
Center; or search by zip code or county, although these
may not align completely with CD borders.
Source: Jerry Brito, George Washington Univ., 2009; and CRS 2014.
Related CRS Products: CRS Report R44027, Tracking
Federal Funds: USAspending.gov and Other Data Sources;
and CRS Report IN10101, Transparency in Grants
Administration: Implementing Relevant Provisions of the
www.crs.gov | 7-5700
Tracking Federal Funds to States and Congressional Districts using USAspending.gov
• For example, a grant award may pass through different
Key Source: USAspending.gov
The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act
of 2006 (FFATA; P.L. 109-282) required the Office of
Management and Budget (OMB) to create a public database
of all federal funds awarded to the final recipient level. This
can be challenging because much federal funding is
awarded to states and may then be passed through or subawarded to local entities, including nonprofits.
Because of continued data quality problems in
USAspending.gov, information in the database may still be
incomplete, inaccurate, or misleading (for example, see
Government Accountability Office Report GAO-14-476 on
data transparency, available at http://www.gao.gov/
Under requirements of P.L. 113-101, the Digital
Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act),
responsibility for the database passed to the U.S.
Department of the Treasury. Over a three-year period, the
act requires that Treasury together with OMB set uniform
data standards to be used across all federal agencies and to
provide additional guidance to agencies for posting data on
Treasury launched a redesigned website on March 31, 2015.
The current database enables searching data from FY2008
to the present. Various search options enable displays and
listings of summary information (see previous page). Users
may search by the name of a contractor or grant recipient.
An Advanced Data Search allows users to limit results by
recipient location, place of performance including CD, or
federal contracting or granting agency.
At the Download Center tab, detailed data information can
be exported into spreadsheets by prime award or sub-award;
by contracts, grants, loans, or “other financial assistance”;
by department or agency (or All); by state recipient or place
of performance; and by fiscal year back to FY2000.
Spreadsheets downloaded include column indicating an
award’s CD (if known): for Contracts, see column BJ; for
Grants and other funding, see column AH.
Current records are added as soon as they become available
from federal agencies, generally within 30 days. There may
be a longer lag-time with data from the Departments of
Defense and Homeland Security, generally 90 days.
States: Where Awarded or Where Spent
Federal grant or procurement awards may have a where
awarded or where spent component that is not always fully
identified in grant or procurement records. Most federal
grants funding is awarded to states, which then passthrough funds to eligible recipients elsewhere in the state.
Funds may then be further sub-awarded or subcontracted.
This sub-level location may be a project’s place of
performance as opposed to the initial recipient location.
jurisdictions in a state (located in different CDs) before
reaching the final place of performance.
• Federal grant monies may first go 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 sub-award funds to an organization that
spends the money in other CDs.
• Procurement awards may be given to a corporation
headquartered in one state (and one CD). 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
Congressional offices should be aware that for some
congressional districts, information in USAspending.gov
may be incomplete, inaccurate, or misleading.
• Special care should be taken when comparing CD data
over time. Due to the redistricting process, the
geographic area within the boundaries of a CD in the
114th or 113th Congress may be partially or wholly
different than the geographic area of a CD with the same
number in the 112th and earlier Congresses. 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.
• Congressional Districts that include state capitals will
appear to receive more federal funds because state
administering agencies (SAAs) pass through funds
under block and formula grants for projects throughout
• Federal grant or procurement funds may pass through
various administrative levels (i.e., to states via block
grants, then to local jurisdictions including different
CDs) before they are actually spent. Choose place of
performance rather than recipient location when
searching USAspending.gov for awards to a CD.
• Recipients of grant or procurement awards prior to
FY2007 were not always identified by CD in federal
sources. Departments and agencies are now required
under P.L. 109-282 to furnish CD information when
they award grants or contracts. Searches of
USAspending.gov data prior to FY2007 or exported at
the USAspending.gov Download Center may not always
Congressional staffers who need help searching
USAspending.gov may place a request via CRS.gov.
Merete F. Gerli, firstname.lastname@example.org, 7-7109
www.crs.gov | 7-5700