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Some questions about the implementation guidelines for the recovery feeds

A project that Erik Wilde and Eric Kansa (colleagues at the School of Information at Berkeley) and I have started tackling is tracking the flow of money from the Stimulus Package (aka the  American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009).  The Obama Administration has set up recovery.gov to "feature information on how the Act is working, tools to help you hold the government accountable, and up-to-date data on the expenditure of funds."   Recovery.gov refers to some implementation details:

To meet these objectives, the President is directing Federal agencies to take critical steps in preparation for the Act’s implementation.  See here, for the White House’s February 9, 2009 initial implementation memorandum and February 18 detailed guidance memorandum.

The detailed memorandum (p. 56) issues the following requirement involving the use of web feeds :

For each of the near term reporting requirements (major communications, formula block grant allocations, weekly reports) agencies are required to provide a feed (preferred: Atom 1.0, acceptable: RSS) of the information so that content can be delivered via subscription.

Erik has been leading our efforts in making sense of the implementation memoranda — you can track his findings in a series of blog posts (listed in reverse chronological order, of course):

As we've read through the memoranda, we've been confused by a variety of matters, ones which we can hope others can help us with:

  1. On p. 56,  you find "Note that the body of the email should include the appropriate completed template as an attachment and should include the name, title, and contact information for the submitter. Templates for these files can be found at https://max.omb.gov/community/x/doC2Dw"  The URL requires a password to access.  Assuming that the template is not some state secret, can someone make those templates available to the public?
  2. Does anyone know of a way to get a list of all "federal block grant programs" relevant to the Stimulus Package?
  3. How to get a complete list of  CFDA Program Number?  One way is to go to http://www.cfda.gov/ and download the latest 2000+ page pdf catalog and scrape the list.  Is there an easier way?
  4. How to get a list of all Treasury Account Symbols (TAS)?  I think I found a list at http://www.fms.treas.gov/fastbook/, specifically the FAST book (in Word format).  I looked for one of the TAS mentioned in a  stimulus feed from the DOJ 15-0402-OJP and couldn't find that TAS specifically.  I'm not surprised since this might be a new TAS — but should we expect to start seeing the new TAS in the FAST book?
  5. Anyone help us decipher Treasury Appropriation Fund Symbols (TAFS). TAFS seem to be a primary mechanism for agencies to distinguish recovery vs non-recovery spending in its reporting. On p. 6, we read  "Agencies must establish unique Treasury Appropriation Fund Symbols (TAFSs) in their financial systems for all Recovery Act funding, unless a waiver is granted by the Director of OMB by February 25th."   Can we get help to get that list of TAFSs?  On p. 32, we have "OMB will post the list of TAFSs on the Budget Execution and Recovery Funding page of the Budget Community; the URL is https://max.omb.gov/community/x/-4BeDw "  Is there any reason that list should be available only to government employees?
  6. Can someone show how to map the detailed list of spending items in the Stimulus package (such as the analysis at ProPublica) to Treasury Account Symbols?

Any help with any of these questions would be greatly appreciated!

{ 1 } Comments

  1. NoelDickover | March 16, 2009 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Hi Raymond, I have access to the OMB MAX system and can find out about #1 on your list – will have to ask if it can be distributed.

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  1. […] nicht als "Opendata" bezeichnet werden können. Raymond has blogged on several occasions about the lack of clarity in Recovery.gov data format specifications and the difficulty in working […]

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