Treasury.IO: A daily data feed for the U.S. Treasury

March 18, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Doc of the day, post 

Ever wonder about the federal government’s checkbook? Well now you can take a peak inside for each day using Treasury.io. “Every day at 4pm, the United States Treasury publishes data tables summarizing the cash spending, deposits, and borrowing of the federal government.” Those data tables “catalog all the money taken in that day from taxes, the programs, and how much debt the government took out.”

One hitch: The Treasury’s data tables are (subjectively) ugly and (objectively) spreadsheet-unfriendly. So Treasury.io — an open-source civic project complete with a github repository! — continuously converts the files into good ol’ tabular data. You can download individual tables as CSVs, get the whole dataset as a big SQLite database, or query the API. There’s also a data dictionary and a Twitter bot.

HT to Jeremy Singer-Vine and his amazing Data Is Plural weekly newsletter of useful/curious datasets. If you haven’t subscribed, then you ought to go over there right now and do so post haste!

Every day at 4pm, the United States Treasury publishes data tables summarizing the cash spending, deposits, and borrowing of the Federal government. These files catalog all the money taken in that day from taxes, the programs, and how much debt the government took out to make it happen. It comes from a section of the U.S. Treasury called the Bureau of the Fiscal Service.

At a time of record fiscal deficits and continual debates over spending, taxation, and the debt, this daily accounting of our government’s main checking account is an essential data point that the public should have ready access to.

via Treasury IO: A daily data feed for the U.S. Treasury.

APDU’s public letter in support of Federal statistical programs

March 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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I was so glad to see that the Association of Public Data users (APDU) just sent a letter in support of federal statistical agencies to the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. This letter has well over 700 signatories (including FGI!) from organizations including the National Association for Business Economists and the NAACP and individuals such as Katherine Wallman and Dean Baker. This is a critical time for federal statistics with funding for ALL federal programs seemingly on the chopping blocks. Keep the pressure on your representatives by calling and/or writing to them to save — and better fund! — federal statistical programs!

We are concerned that a lack of appreciation for the critical importance of our Federal statistical and data systems may worsen, and are worried that, after years of insufficient funding, these systems face deeper funding cuts and further marginalization. Our nation, economy, businesses and citizens rely on the nonpartisan, gold-standard data provided by several agencies, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, National Center for Education Statistics, the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, the Energy Information Administration, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the Economic Research Service, the National Agricultural Statistics Service, the Internal Revenue Service Statistics of Income, the Social Security Administration Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics, and the National Center for Health Statistics.

These data resources benefit individual citizens who seek information to:

  • guide their career and education choices,
  • gain a clearer sense of wages and benefits on offer for different careers,
  • choose a community in which to live.

Our Democracy relies on Federal data for:

  • Apportionment — population count determines allocation of legislative seats by
    geography,
  • Redistricting — state legislatures use population counts and characteristics to determine
    legislative boundaries,
  • Voting and civil rights — Congress and the Supreme Court explicitly rely on data to ensure compliance with voting and civil rights laws.

Federal data resources help the public sector to:

  • evaluate programs
  • support evidence-based decision-making,
  • project tax collections and craft budgets,
  • guide fiscal and monetary policy,
  • target limited resources,
  • design policy and programs, such as in housing, health, education and training, economic development, transportation, and criminal justice,
  • index many benefits and tax brackets to inflation,
  • work with local businesses when making investments.

Pentagon buries internal study finding $125 billion in bureaucratic waste

December 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Doc of the day, post 

This is the kind of news that makes the public distrust government (in this case rightly, but just as frequently that distrust is misplaced). It’s also the kind of news item that I like because there’s context AND there’s a copy of the internal study that I can archive, catalog and give access to via our library catalog.

The Pentagon has buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the defense budget, according to interviews and confidential memos obtained by The Washington Post.

Pentagon leaders had requested the study to help make their enormous back-office bureaucracy more efficient and reinvest any savings in combat power. But after the project documented far more wasteful spending than expected, senior defense officials moved swiftly to kill it by discrediting and suppressing the results.

The report, issued in January 2015, identified “a clear path” for the Defense Department to save $125 billion over five years. The plan would not have required layoffs of civil servants or reductions in military personnel. Instead, it would have streamlined the bureaucracy through attrition and early retirements, curtailed high-priced contractors and made better use of information technology.

The study was produced last year by the Defense Business Board, a federal advisory panel of corporate executives, and consultants from McKinsey and Company. Based on reams of personnel and cost data, their report revealed for the first time that the Pentagon was spending almost a quarter of its $580 billion budget on overhead and core business operations such as accounting, human resources, logistics and property management.

via Pentagon buries evidence of $125 billion in bureaucratic waste – The Washington Post.

U.S. Budget FY 2017 coming Feb 9, 2016

February 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
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[press release]

The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will be releasing President Barack Obama’s Budget for the U.S. Government, FY 2017. Printed copies will be available through GPO’s retail and online bookstore. The Budget will also be available as a mobile web app and electronically on govinfo.gov

WHEN:
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
11:00 am EST

Note: The Historical Tables will be available only in digital format on govinfo.gov and OMB’s website www.budget.gov

complete press release [PDF]

Census Bureau to drop 3-Year estimates from American Community Survey (ACS)

February 5, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
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It seems as if the Census bureau is dying a slow death of a thousand cuts. This is just the latest cut (and by the way, did anyone notice that this Census press release actually comes from the site “content.govdelivery.com”?!). This seems like a good time to remind folks to read our earlier response to Census budget cuts, “Fear, uncertainty, or doubt? Why the Census and ACS are critical to a well-functioning democracy.”

As a result of tight budgetary considerations, the U.S. Census Bureau has proposed permanently discontinuing a statistical product from the American Community Survey beginning in fiscal year 2016. The product, often called the “3-year estimates,” combines three years of data collection into a three-year rolling average and is available for communities with populations of 20,000 or more.

Although the Census Bureau would discontinue this product, every community in the nation will continue to receive a detailed statistical portrait of its social, economic, housing and demographic characteristics through other American Community Survey products. Specifically, the Census Bureau will continue producing annual estimates for communities of 65,000 or more, and communities of all sizes, including the nation’s smallest, will continue to receive updated five-year rolling averages each year.

The Census Bureau has proposed dropping the three-year product in order to prioritize funding for activities that enhance the quality of the entire data set and enhance the experience for the survey respondent. For example, these activities include additional training for field representatives, continued review of the survey questions and the way they are asked, and expanded outreach and partnership with stakeholders.

Spending plans for fiscal year 2015 are currently under review by the Office of Management and Budget. For more information about the Census Bureau’s fiscal year 2016 budget, please visit OMB’s site.

via Census Bureau Statement on American Community Survey 3-Year Statistical Product.

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