Important Details About the Data

What is different about this data collection effort?

Since GPRAMA was enacted into law, OMB has made several efforts at compiling data using both manual and automated methods. None of these efforts have been wholly successful in meeting the requirements for an inventory.

The FPI Exploratory Pilot is an ongoing exercise where OMB provided agencies specific guidance on how to report programmatic information in a new manner using revised and/or new definitions and concepts.  The purpose of the pilot is to collect insights into the most efficient path to a more comprehensive inventory, while also limiting agency reporting burden to those areas most critical to achieving the inventory’s intent.  To that end, the data on this website are not the authoritative source of US Federal government spending data for the categories in this pilot.

For this pilot, OMB aimed to overcome previous challenges by:

  1. Defining program and requesting consistent application.  For the purposes of the pilot, program was defined as a set of activities funded by a distinct expenditure method and having a distinct mission/purpose. In previous attempts at compiling an inventory, OMB did not require a consistent definition.
  2. Asking agencies to identify the recipients and beneficiaries of their programs, based in part on the Government Accountability Office’s recommended approach laid out in this 2017 report.
  3. Introducing the concept of categories as a way to limit the scope of the pilot by asking agencies to identify funds related to common cross-government data collection efforts.
  4. Collecting data based on actual obligations from prior fiscal years.

Since this is a new approach to collecting data, OMB has identified some differences in how agencies applied this guidance.  OMB will be working with agencies in the coming months to address these differences. In particular, OMB provided a set of predefined values for expenditure methods, missions/purposes, recipients, and beneficiaries. Different interpretations of these lists could have led to inconsistent results and OMB looks forward to discussions with agencies about how these lists can be amended and improved.

What data did OMB ask agencies to provide?

For each program identified as meeting the scope of this exercise, agencies were asked to provide the program name, a short description, and common program elements.

  • Program Name:  Generally, agencies were instructed that program names should be readily identifiable to the public and wherever possible agencies should not create new program names for purposes of this pilot. 
  • Description: Agencies were asked to provide no more than two to three sentences of basic descriptive information about the program. 
  • Common Program Elements: Agencies were instructed to select from a set of prepopulated lists one expenditure method, one mission/purpose, one or more recipients, and one or more beneficiaries.

Agencies were also asked to report for FY 2019 and FY 2020:

  • Total obligations for any program that had some spending related to one or more of the categories
  • The portion of the total program obligations that met the definition of the associated category or categories.

For example:  The Department of Health and Human Services identified that their Head Start Program had spending related to the Homelessness and Native American categories.  They therefore reported Head Start total program obligations for each year as well as obligations by category for each year.  On this website, for each category the displays are for the amount associated with that category. 

Users can download the data here to see the total obligations for each program and the amounts associated with each category.

What agencies did not provide data?

The Department of Defense was unable to provide complete data for the initial launch of this website; the partial data provided is not being made available.  In addition, many smaller agencies did not report data under this pilot; OMB has not verified, in all cases, whether agencies did not have data to report.

How should these data be used by the public?

Data on this site should not be used for the purpose of analyzing spending by categories.  OMB is just beginning its analysis of the data quality and will soon be engaging in various stakeholder engagements, including engagements with Federal agencies, Congress, and members of the public. This site provides data to inform those engagements and to prompt meaningful questions about potential next steps for the inventory.