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Federal grant data riddled with inconsistencies, report says

The vast majority of federal grant spending is either overreported, underreported or not reported publicly at all, according to a new report from the Sunlight Foundation.

The non-profit group released its most recent Clearspending report on Sept. 21, showing that $1.3 trillion in federal grants and loans were misreported on in fiscal 2010. That covers 94.5 percent of the total amount of grants.

That pattern also was observed in fiscal 2008, in which 96.5 percent of the total was determined to be misreported on, the Sept. 21 report said.

“We have seen no significant improvement in the quality of this data,” Sunlight officials wrote in the report. “As long as such a large portion of its data remains unreliable, is not usable as a single source for any kind of analysis, whether by a citizen, media outlet or research institution.”

The foundation analyzed federal grant spending data as reported to to determine whether it was consistent with data submitted to the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance.

If spending was reported to and not to the catalog, that amount was deemed to be overreported. If spending was reported to the catalog but not to, it was judged underreported.

The agencies with the greatest overreporting were the Education Department, with 30 percent, and Homeland Security Department, with more than three thousand percent overreported, the study said.

Those with the largest percentages of underreporting were the Labor Department, 95 percent; National Archives & Records Administration, 80 percent; USDA, 60 percent; Environmental Protection Agency, 46 percnet; Transportation Department, 35 percent; and Health and Human Services Department, 35 percent.

Posted by Alice Lipowicz on Sep 22, 2011 at 7:25 PM

Reader Comments

Sat, Sep 24, 2011 EDDIE TOMBS

Why I'm not surprise. Assuming the report covers a wide range of grants, which would include FASFA. Based on wife’s and my income, which on paper would be close to 2 1/2 times more than what my parents earned, but was considered decent money back in the 1970s, they manage to qualify for student aid for my brother and sisters. However after trying for a couple of years I don't. Therefore we decided to send daughter to community college in the hopes of building savings up over the next two years when she'll transfer to a 4 year institution as I don't expect to receive any grant moneys than either. It's more feasible for the government to offer student loans or credit card companies to offer students in low paying jobs a line of credit, having them in debt before they even graduate and we wonder why the economy is in the shape it's in. Now please tell me whose mortgaging our young people's future.

Fri, Sep 23, 2011

Wow, 1.3 trillion misreported?!!And we federal employees are getting pay/hiring freezes, no promotions working more with less, etc... Something is very wrong with this picture!

Fri, Sep 23, 2011 Ginny Rober

It's all theft anyway. Instead of endlessly admiring and ensconcing the problem, let's just amputate it. If any taxpayer wishes to pay for this stuff, s/he's free to write a check. Voluntarily.

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