Track Your Taxes

Concerned citizens can now track government spending at Users can view current and historical spending on contracts, grants, and loans, broken down by characteristics like congressional district and contractor. The website, mandated by the Federal Funding and Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, is a revamped version of Warning: if you’re a pacifist, steer clear, or at least keep your blood-pressure pills at hand. (HT: The Big Picture) [%comments]

Brian Moore

I don't usually compliment things the government does, but whoever was responsible for this: good work.

Bobby G

I like how the US Government gives itself $2 billion (#18 on top 100 recipients of Federal Contract Awards) ... what the heck? What exactly are my taxes paying for there? Or is that just the flat out deadweight loss of our government? Doubtful... I imagine it's much more than that, particularly when thinking about inefficient spending amounts, which is likely present in every single transaction.

Bobby G

Also (sorry for the double post),

Johns Hopkins University ranks 73rd... apparently taxpayers gave that university $450 million this year, and Leland Stanford Junior University got $363 million.

So um... my kids will get discounted tuitions if they go there right? Since I'm already giving that school my money?

(cough)doubt it(cough)


Divide the amount of money they got by the number of taxpayers and that's how much of a discount you ought to get.


@Bobby G

Actually, your kids will probably pay less in tuition as undergraduates than will be spent on their education. A lot of those government funds come in the form of financial aid, while other portions of that funding goes to research. For each research grant, most universities pull out overhead that helps cover instruction time, equipment, and other resources used by undergrads. Thanks in part to govt subsidies, undergraduate education is actually quite a bargain when you consider ROI. Of course, it would be better if they just gave the money directly to the students, on a need basis, for use in paying tuition.


@ BobbyG

You could probably get it, but on a per-taxpayer basis that's only about $3, so don't close out the 529 plan just yet. :)


Bobby G: I believe that represents interest payments on intergovernmental debt. Regardless, it doesn't affect your taxes (kind of like how transferring $10 from your savings account to your checking account doesn't affect the amount of money that you have).

Brian Moore: You were wondering who to credit with this. This bill was originally introduced by Barack Obama and Tim Coburn in 2006, and Tom Carper and John McCain joined on as sponsors a little bit later.


@ Bobby G's second comment: I'm guessing the payments to universities are generally grants for scientific research. For example, in the case of Johns Hopkins, it's probably for the research of life-saving medical procedures..


Gee, why could top-ranked research universities *possibly* be getting government dollars?
I'd be willing to bet that you already enjoy the developments of technology developed with federal grants at Stanford and Johns Hopkins (and MIT, which is 75th) on a daily basis.


At least Osh Kosh Corp. is #11. Who can argue with cute overalls for toddlers?


Where is this information for state governments? If that is available then this would be really impressive..


Why is the spending limited to strictly Contracts, Loans, & Grants?

I want to see true costs vs. tax revenue - where's the breakdown of medicare costs, social security costs, interest payments on debt, etc. Where's the breakdown of deficit spending?

Are these government costs not considered 'spending'?

This site is a good attempt, but it doesn't tell us nearly as much as it should.


Re: "if you're a pacifist, steer clear..."

Considering the original constitutional role of the federal government, the fact that defense spending accounts for the top allocations should not surprise any of us, especially when the expense of modern technology and research is considered.

The technology/research expense also applies to other areas like healthcare, but that was not part of the original federal scope. Nevertheless, it has increasingly become so. Hence the spending for Johns Hopkins, etc. Who knows how that will grow in the future.