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Study faults quality of federal grant spending data

Sep. 19, 2011 - 06:00AM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments
Energy-efficient appliances are on display at a technology fair. A just-released study says the Energy Department's rebate program for energy-efficient appliances is one of the few that reports spending information consistently, completely and on time, based on reports posted on the USAspending.gov website.
Energy-efficient appliances are on display at a technology fair. A just-released study says the Energy Department's rebate program for energy-efficient appliances is one of the few that reports spending information consistently, completely and on time, based on reports posted on the USAspending.gov website. (Getty Images)

Eighty-seven percent of all reported 2010 grant spending lacked some required information, a study finds.

The non-profit organization Sunlight Foundation reported the errors after reviewing $1.4 trillion in reported grant spending on some 1,700 programs last year, http://www.USAspending.gov">as reported on the government's online database of all unclassified grant and contract spending.

On the upside, the average time to report grant spending on USAspending.gov dropped from 58 days in 2009 to 27 last year. This is the lag between the date on which the grant money is obligated and the date that the obligation is reported to USAspending.gov.

The Sunlight Foundation noted that more than 200 programs did a good job of reporting spending information consistently, completely and on time. Among them were the Education Department's special education preschool grants, an Energy Department rebate program for energy efficient appliances, and the Agriculture Department's specialty crop research initiative.

"It seems clear that there are some programs that know how to do it right and they do it, but they don't represent the lion's share of the obligations that are in USAspending," said Kaitlin Lee, the foundation's senior developer for the project.

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