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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Where does all the money go and how do we get there?



As of recently, I have wanted to find more information on how government spending is appropriated? I am a part of a design team collaboration that applied for federal funding along with 21,000 other grant seekers from across the nation.

As a citizen, you might wonder where contracting dollars and grant awards are spent.

The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 requires a single searchable website, accessible by the public for free that includes information for each Federal award. It is an Act of Congress that requires disclosure to the public of all entities or organizations receiving federal funds.

A website maintained by The Office of Management and Budget opened in December 2007 as a result of the act. A price tag of $15 million was estimated by The Congressional Budget Office over its authorized time period through 2011 to run the database. View the site for yourself at www.usaspending.gov.

The site gives a comprehensive listing of charts that highlight the name of the entity receiving the award, the amount of the award, information on the award including transaction type, funding agency, the location of the entity receiving the award, and a unique identifier of the entity receiving the award.

According to the site the data is largely from sources: the Federal Procurement Data System and the Federal Assistance Award Data System.
The top 3 contracts to date for the 2009 fiscal year to have received federal dollars are: 1) Lockheed Martin Corporation - $29 billion 2) The Boeing Company - $18 billion 3) General Dynamics Corp. - $12 billion. As a city, it is vitally important that these companies know who we are, where we are located, and receive a steady amount of marketing material about doing business with our town.

Roughly 50% of 2009 spending went towards grants given out by the government ($679 billion). Several local government agencies and local companies have received federal funding according to the website’s data which goes clear back to the year 2000.

For example previously listed Anderson company Global Fleet Sales Inc with a listed address of 720 Maplewood Avenue has received multiple grants of which the last was $9 million in early 2006. The Anderson Airport received roughly $2.4 million in 2008 for airport improvements.

As a state Indiana ranks 25th in receipt of federal dollars with a $5.3 billion in regards to place of performance (1.5% of what was given out in nationally 2009).

However these decisions are made, there has been billions of dollars appropriated to communities across the country. As we continue to track federal spending it is my hope for the sake of our community that we find out how to be positioned at the center of what is being given out nationally.

Jesse Wilkerson is the principal of a local architecture firm. He also hosts Vision for Success 1240 AM WHBU. His column appears every other Monday on the Business page.

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