The federal government spends about $3.8 trillion a year. Ever wonder where it goes? The passage of 2014’s Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) now requires the government to tell the American public exactly where those dollars end up.
The DATA Act doesn’t just provide transparency for the sake of transparency. Now data is open to a wide variety of analysis and applications—for students, journalists, budget wonks, and more. “It’s the Google of the government,” says U.S. Treasury Department Deputy Assistant Secretary Christina Ho.
But getting there was a huge challenge. A talented team of data scientists and technologists responsible for getting the government’s spending data online had to track money quarterly. They then had to link data from the budget, accounting, procurement, and financial assistance databases into a single format that allowed for comparability across the entire government.