Site to pinpoint federal spending
- By William Matthews
- Apr 05, 2001
Center for National Policy
The Center for National Policy, a Washington, D.C.-based research organization,
is creating an Internet site that will show in detail how the federal government
spends money in the nation's congressional districts.
The federal government spends $2 trillion a year on items ranging from
Social Security payments to pollution control projects, veterans' mortgages
to university grants. But few Americans are aware of how much of that total
is spent in their communities, said Leon Panetta, chairman of the Center
for National Policy.
"Most Americans do not see the impact of budget decisions on themselves
or their neighbors. The American people are entitled to that information,"
said Panetta, who is a former director of the Office of Management and Budget
and a former chairman of the House Budget Committee.
The Center for National Policy is ready to open the fiscal information
spigot. Through a project called "What Government Does" (www.solfopro.com/CNP), the center plans to offer a detailed look at federal spending in each congressional district. So far, analysis on federal spending
in three states Ohio, Michigan and Illinois has been completed.
Federal spending is parsed in substantial detail. The Web site shows:
- Spending by function Social Security, medical care, farm income
stabilization, education, criminal justice assistance and so on.
- Spending by federal agencies.
- Spending by program Head Start, drunken driving prevention, respiratory
impairment treatment for coal miners, food stamps, etc.
- Spending divided into categories of personnel salaries, procurement
and awards and assistance grants. In Ohio's second congressional district
in 1999, for example, the federal government spent $128,782,021 on salaries.
However, the What Government Does database does not say where the federal
Federal spending in the rest of the nation's congressional districts
could be analyzed and posted online in six months, said Maureen Steinbruner,
president of the Center for National Policy. However, the center needs $500,000
more in funding to accomplish that task. The work done thus far has been
funded by the Joyce Foundation.
Information on how federal money is spent locally would give citizens
greater understanding of national political issues, Panetta said. It would
become clearer, for example, how a vote to cut federal spending would affect
various localities, he said.