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Nonprofit Group POGO Recommends Updates to Online Federal Spending Database

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The Project on Government Oversight has called on the Treasury Department and the Office of Management and Budget to update the functionality of a web-based resource for federal spending information.

Both agencies should work to address data search filter, presentation and reporting concerns related to USAspending.gov, the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization said in a letter published June 28.

POGO sent the missive to Amy Edwards, deputy assistant secretary for accounting policy and financial transparency at Treasury, and Victoria Collin, chief of OMB’s management controls and assistance branch.

The group found some discrepancies when it comes to searching for specific information involving large companies, as they can be identified by multiple variations of recipient names and Dun and Bradstreet numbers.

For example, a search using Spending Explorer to look for the recipient breakdown for contractual services and supplies for NASA would result in three separate entries for Boeing: “The Boeing Company” with 8.4 percent of the spending, “Boeing Company” with 4.4 percent, and “Boeing Company, The” with 3.7 percent.

POGO added the website contains a gap in spending records for mutliple government agency programs. For instance, the Agriculture Department’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, is listed in USASpending.gov as having awards totaling only $160 million when the program has already spent $68 billion in fiscal year 2017 alone.

The nonprofit recommended a summary view of search results specifically for contracts — displaying a breakdown of spending regarding details such as extent competed or a breakdown of total contract money spent on products versus for services — and assistance awards.

The portal should also include a recipient profile and a list of the top 100 contractors and top 100 grant/assistance recipients for every fiscal year, POGO added.

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