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In the past three years there has been an increase in the number of programs reporting to USASpending.gov. However, the reported data suffers from an abundance of errors. There are also serious problems with the data’s timeliness and completeness. Of the $1.9 trillion the government spent on grants in 2009, $1.3 trillion – 70% -- was incorrectly accounted for on USASpending.gov.
A report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) assessing USASpending.gov reported that 15 grant programs did not report any funding to USASpending.gov in 2008. Our analysis shows that this is a considerable underestimate. In fact, 325 programs did not report any spending to USASpending.gov for that year. The total amount of the (non-reported) spending was $583 billion, or 22%, of the total grant spending for 2008. For loans, the total not reported was $772 billion out of $872 billion in outstanding loans.
Another example of a reporting error is the total value of all federal student loans for 2009. The Federal Direct Student Loan program (84.268) reports over $5 trillion in loans. This is more than the entire federal budget. There seem to be no data quality checks built in to the data entry system to flag or warn users that their entries far exceed a program’s or an agency’s budget.