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"Transparency" website overhauled to make it more difficult to track government spending

Published in Blog on July 18, 2017 by Convention Of States Project

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A redesign of a transparency website that provides information on federal spending by the Obama administration now makes it much more difficult to see how taxpayer dollars are spent.

Usaspending.gov, a website mandated by law to provide detailed information on every federal contract over $3,000, received a makeover on Tuesday. Users can no longer search federal spending by keywords, sort contracts by date, or easily find detailed information on awards, which are delivered in bulk.

Information, such as how much the Pentagon spends on Viagra, used to be available at the click of a button. Locating those same contracts on the new website is virtually impossible, akin to finding a needle in a haystack.

In its previous form, the website provided easy access to how taxpayer dollars are spent, as it happens. A user now must have the federal grant identification number to see details of a contract.

In another aspect of the overhaul, the online address of each of the website’s individual pages now begins with the word “transparency.”

The new version of Usaspending.gov provides a “spending map” to search by zip code, and “agency profiles,” which only provide totals of funding, sub-awards, and transactions. The results list the highest dollar amounts by company, but provide no links to specific contracts.

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