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NEW ANALYSIS FROM SUNLIGHT IDENTIFIES $1.3 TRILLION IN BROKEN FEDERAL SPENDING DATA, FULL REPORT AT CLEARSPENDING.COM WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Sunlight Foundation launches ClearSpending.com, a new website and “scorecard” that analyzes how well U.S. government agencies are reporting their spending data on USASpending.gov. ClearSpending is the most thorough analysis of this federal grant and loan data ever conducted and was first previewed at the Gov 2.0 Summit yesterday. Sunlight’s analysis reveals that more than $1.3 trillion in federal reporting data from 2009 is broken. These data inaccuracies account for half of the total $2.6 trillion in government spending data reported last year. ClearSpending offers a critique on the reliability of data from USASpending.gov, across three metrics—consistency, completeness and timeliness—and covers spending from 2007, 2008 and 2009. While there has been an increase in the number of programs reporting to USASpending.gov in the past three years, the reported data suffers from an abundance of errors, as well as problems with the data’s timeliness and completeness. Findings from Sunlight’s ClearSpending show that a significant portion of the government’s data is unreliable and that USASpending.gov has not fulfilled its legal requirement of providing the public access to accurate, timely and detailed information on how federal agencies fulfill their spending obligations. Read the full report online at www.sunlightfoundation.com/clearspending. “The rise of Gov 2.0 brought much excitement for new technologies within government, including a call to arms for more and better public data. But as ClearSpending proves, first we need to fix how the data we already have is collected and reported,” said Ellen Miller, executive director and co-founder of the Sunlight Foundation. “The proper reporting of government spending is not only critical for curbing fraud and abuse, but it allows state and municipal officials, and also the public, to see where the money is going and how it is benefiting their communities.” -more-
Sunlight Foundation, page 2 ClearSpending.com’s scorecard offers a detailed view of how federal agencies and programs are reporting their spending data. The scorecard provides an analysis of more than 30 federal agencies and how they rank in the following categories: • • • • • Over Reporting—The amount reported in USASpending.gov that is not reported in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA). Under Reporting—The amount reported in the CFDA that is not reported in USASpending.gov. Non-Reporting—The total value of all programs that are completely missing from USASpending.gov. Late—The total obligations that were reported late. Incomplete—The total obligations that omitted required information.
While the ClearSpending scorecard does not provide numerical rank for the best and worst federal agencies, Sunlight’s analysis does show that the Corporation for National and Community Service, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Science Foundation are among best reporting agencies. The agencies with the least well-reported data are those with large budgets and those that have programs that primarily give grants to individual recipients, such as Medicare, unemployment insurance and veterans’ benefits. The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, which created USASpending.gov, does not require individual grants to be reported. As the ClearSpending report shows, federal agencies need to focus on the quality of data they collect. If the data is unreliable, then the quality of tools and websites built upon it is irrelevant. At the moment, USASpending.gov cannot be considered a meaningful source of information about federal spending. Sunlight will continue to regularly update ClearSpending.com as data becomes available from USASpending.gov. For more information on ClearSpending’s methodology, visit http://sunlightfoundation.com/clearspending/methodology/. A video explaining more about ClearSpending is available here.
The Sunlight Foundation is a non-partisan non-profit that uses cutting-edge technology and ideas to make government transparent and accountable. Visit http://SunlightFoundation.com to learn more about Sunlight’s projects, including http://PoliticalPartyTime.org and http://TransparencyData.com.