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A clarification of why I'm looking for Recovery TAFS and appropriations

In response to a question I received on a mailing list in response to my query  Does anyone know of a complete and up-to-date list of Recovery Act accounts? concerning why I was looking for amounts appropriated and not just obligated an spent for the Recovery, I wrote the following clarification (which I have edited lightly):

In addition to the amount of money that is obligated and spent, isn't there also the amount money that is appropriated?  The amount obligated and spent goes up, but isn't the appropriation supposed to be maximum that the obligated and spent amounts ever reach?  (I'm an accounting newbie, so correct me if I misunderstand what these terms mean.)  What I'm trying to understand right now are statements like "ARRA is a $787 billion dollar bill" and the Department of Education is getting a "$100 billion".   Specifically, I'd like to see how various line items add up to the totals quoted.

The amounts obligated used to be reported in the weekly excel spreadsheets from the agencies.  For example, consider the April 3 report from the Department of Ed:

and the corresponding spreadsheet:

At, we're told that:

  • Total Available: $11,363,064,856
  • Total Paid Out: $0

The spreadsheet (specifically the "Weekly Update" worksheet) actually supports this statement — here, I copy the table and add the totals line.

Program Source/ Treasury Account Symbol: Agency Code Program Source/Treasury Account Symbol: Account Code Program Source/Treasury Account Symbol; Sub-Account Code (OPTIONAL) Program Description (Account Title) Total Appropriation Total Obligations Total Disbursements
91 0103 IMPACT AID, RECOVERY ACT $100,000,000 $0 $0
91 0196 HIGHER EDUCATION, RECOVERY ACT $100,000,000 $0 $0
91 0197 INSTITUTE OF ED SCIENCES, RECOVERY ACT $250,000,000 $0 $0
91 0198 STUDENT AID ADMIN, RECOVERY ACT $60,000,000 $0 $0
91 0199 STUDENT FINANCIAL ASST, RECOVERY ACT $16,483,000,000 $198,901,281 $0
91 0207 INNOVATION & IMPROVEMENT, RECOVERY ACT $200,000,000 $0 $0
91 0299 SPECIAL EDUCATION, RECOVERY ACT $12,200,000,000 $5,970,012,399 $0
91 0302 REHAB SRVCS & DISABILITY RSRCH, RECOVERY ACT $680,000,000 $315,570,633 $0
91 0901 ED FOR THE DISADVANTAGED, RECOVERY ACT $13,000,000,000 $4,878,580,543 $0
91 1001 SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT PRG, RECOVERY ACT $720,000,000 $0 $0
91 1401 OFC OF INSPECTOR GENERAL, RECOVERY ACT $14,000,000 $0 $0
91 1909 ST FISCAL STABILIZATION FUND, RECOV ACT $53,600,000,000 $0 $0
Total $97,407,000,000 $11,363,064,856 $0

You'll see that the total amount obligated and disbursed match what's listed on the web.  What my previous post  is trying to get at is

1) how to get an up-to-date list of all these accounts (there are 12 listed for education here, but in a tally I'm working on, there are 14)


2) what the the appropriation for each account is.  I'm happy to see the total appropriation for Dept of Ed as $97,407,000,000 — since it matches what ProPublica lists at — not to mention statements like "The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provides approximately $100 billion for education" (

Once I have an accurate list of TAFS (e.g., 91-1909 for the State fiscal stabilization fund = $53.6 billion), then I'm use that list to slot the spending data.

{ 2 } Trackbacks

  1. [...] July, I wrote about why I've been looking for Recovery TAFS and appropriations. In an attempt to get an official list from the US federal government, Eric Kansa and I sent a FOIA [...]

  2. [...] how difficult it has been to locate basic accounting data.  For example, after looking for months, I have yet to locate a reliable list of Recovery TAFS, basically a list of all the pots of money (as tallied by Treasury) and the maximum amount of money [...]

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