Governmental bodies collect and distribute data based on different laws. As you search for data sources, you need to consider what levels of government the data comes from (federal, state, local, and international) and which types of agencies such as labor, health, education, transportation etc. may have a mandate to gather and/or disseminate relevant data.
Sources of government data change regularly. On May 9th, federal agencies officially began reporting data in compliance with the open standards created under the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, the landmark legislation that cleared Congress in 2014. (It’s called the DATA Act, for short). The data will start flowing to beta.usaspending.gov in the coming days and will eventually be transitioned to USAspending.gov, the long term online home of federal spending data.
USASpending.gov is a publicly accessible website that was set up by The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (FFATA) which requires federal contract, grant, loan, and other financial assistance awards of more than $25,000 be made available to the public. “As a matter of discretion, USASpending.gov also displays certain federal contracts of more than $3,000.”
There are also two new beta sites available to explore. Govinfo.gov is an official government website that will replace the Federal Digital System (FDsys). Currently the following collections are available:
- Code of Federal Regulations
- Congressional Bills
- Congressional Hearings
- The Federal Register
- Public Papers of the Presidents
For a more detailed look of what is available check out this link. Historical information is available as well.
USAFacts.org is a private funded site that is also in beta that was released in April 2017. The site is non-partisan, not-for-profit civic initiative to provide a “portrait of the American population, government finances, and government’s impact on society.” USAFacts.org relies on publicly available government data sources that integrates data on revenue and spending across federal, state, and local governments.
What happens when government websites and data disappear?
The Internet Archives along with partners such as the Library of Congress, University of North Texas, George Washington University, Stanford University, California Digital Library, and other public and private libraries, have been participating in the End of Term Web Archive project to preserve federal government websites and data at times of administration changes.
Between Fall 2016 and Spring 2017, the Internet Archive archived over 200 terabytes of government websites and data. Including data from public websites and federal FTP file servers totaling, together, over 350 million URLs/files. All of the web pages are accessible through the Wayback Machine.
At Access/Information, we have a history of researching government information on all levels. If you are not sure where to find government information or you need to track spending or find out which entities are being awarded contracts we can help.