We’ve been tackling the data gaps issue for a while. Here are some more examples.
Hard to find data:
Data that’s difficult to find on a government website.
Example: There is some data that can’t be integrated into USAspending.gov. For example, subrecipient data in the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds program could not be displayed like other pandemic spending data. Instead, spreadsheets were posted separately to make the data publicly available.
Example: Some agencies have publicly issued additional data (which also can’t be integrated to USAspending.gov) that they have collected about recipients who got money from certain programs, like the Restaurant Revitalization Fund and the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. However, this data is not easily accessible on the agency's website. Once found, the data must be downloaded by a user.
Example: We previously reported that the Education Stabilization Fund’s three largest subprograms (the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, and the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund) were not reported separately to USAspending.gov. This makes it hard for the public to find data in each of the subprograms. Now, the Department of Education has a Transparency Portal that breaks down funding by subprogram and provides more information on how funds are being used.
Information that’s technical or full of jargon.
Example: We previously reported that more than 15,400 awards worth $33 billion have meaningless descriptions that make it difficult to know how the money was used. For example:
- 12,600 awards use descriptions that just repeat the name of the program, like “Community Development Block Grants/Entitlement Grants”
- 2,500 awards are described using only technical jargon that the public or policymakers can’t understand, like “CCC5-2021”
- 360 awards list variations of pandemic-related relief legislation, like “CARES ACT”