Federal Budget: Detailed Numbers
Using this page, you can find details on how the federal government
spends money over various time periods, including projected spending
for fiscal year 2005.
The section "What Do the Numbers Mean?" explains where the numbers
came from and how they are organized.
Get the Numbers
What Do the Numbers Mean?
What are the numbers?
Federal spending in a given
is presented in terms of both
budget authority (1976--2005).
Figures for fiscal years 2004 and 2005 are estimates based on the president's
fiscal policy and economic assumptions. Note that the definition
of the fiscal year changed between 1976 and 1977.
TQ is the transition quarter,
the 3-month period July 1, 1976 to September 30, 1976.
Where are the numbers from?
The data are from the
Public Budget Database, Budget
of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2005.
How are the numbers organized?
The outlays (or budget authority) for a given fiscal year are presented hierarchically. There are two
By agency and bureau
This follows the Public Budget Database, which organizes its data
in a hierarchy with three levels: agency, bureau, account. (An "agency" may not
always represent an actual agency; likewise for "bureau.")
presentation of the data by agency and bureau, the top level is a list of agencies.
In particular, this list contains: cabinet departments;
the legislative and judicial branches of government; a handful of independent
agencies; other independent agencies, grouped together at this level;
allowances; and undistributed offsetting receipts.
The second level is that of the individual agency.
The third level is a bureau within an agency. The last level
is that of an account.
By function and subfunction
The Public Budget Database also organizes data by budget function
and subfunction. Subfuctions are then divided following the scheme above,
i.e., agency, bureau, and account.
Since agencies and their bureaus may spend money across
multiple budget functions and subfunctions, the
amounts shown here for agencies and bureaus only
reflect spending associated with that particular
budget (sub)function, not necessarily all spending
for that agency or bureau.
For example, in 2004 the Department of Energy
shows a total of $882 million in outlays
under the budget subfunction Energy conservation (272). But it also
shows a total of $16.1 billion
under Atomic energy defense activities (053).
Listing spending by budget function and subfunction is often a useful way to view
the budget data. For example, it openly distinguishes the components of the budget of the
Department of Energy devoted to military and non-military aspects. (The former is primarily
related to nuclear weapons.)
A note on historical consistency
Account level data are useful in that they are the most detailed description of the
budget given by statute. Account data should be considered suspect when making historical
comparisons (for example, looking at budget trends), because programs are sometimes moved
from one account to another and accounts are sometimes consolidated.
In contrast, subfunction classifications tend to be very stable over time.
Futhermore, when a budget item is moved from one subfunction to another, the change is usually
well-documented, and data series like those in the Public Budget Database are revised
backwards to reflect the new definition.
Other aspects of the presentation
Zero values discarded
Rows in the database which have a value of "0" for a particular fiscal year
are not reported for that year.
However, note that sometimes values of positive and negative numbers for an agency or bureau
will sum to 0. In that case, since the underlying values do not vanish, the sum is presented
even though it does vanish.
The Public Budget Database presents data on outlays for fiscal years 1962 to 2005
and data on budget authority for fiscal years 1976 to 2005.
Since the funding lifetime of some programs and agencies is limited, many entries in the
outlays and budget authority tables will be zero.
Social Security Administration
The Social Security Administration is split into two agencies in the
Public Budget Database (numbered 016 and 017).
Since these are both named "Social Security Administration," they are
combined here into one.
Automatic descent of hierarchy
Extra levels of the data hierarchy are presented when there is only one
possible choice involved.
For example, if a user starts at the
level (organized by agency)
and then clicks on
the data is presented down to the account level, since in the budget database this agency
has only one underlying bureau (also denoted
"Social Security Aministration"). On the other hand, clicking on
displays only the agency and its underlying bureaus
(the first also "Department of Transportation," then "Office of the Secretary", and so on).
A similar contrast for the
by budget function can be made between the budget functions
(whose presentation extends to the level of account) and
(where no more than budget subfunctions are detailed).
What do negative values mean?
In the database some values for outlays or budget authority are negative. These values reflect
offsetting receipts and collections.
Minor discrepancies with other budget documents
The figures given here for
(function 050) or
(function 150) or
do not match those in the "Historical Tables" exactly (see Table 8.1, "Outlays by Budget
Enforcement Act Category: 1962--2009"
The presentation in Table 8.1 of the "Historical
Tables," as noted there, lists data for
spending. If the numbers
presented here using the Public Budget Database were to exclude the relatively
small amounts in functions 050 and 150 consisting of
spending, the numbers would match exactly.
Note that the numbers presented here for
undistributed offsetting receipts
(function 950) do not match those in Table 8.1 for the years 1987--1990. The reason for this is currently unknown.
The presentation of the budget numbers was inspired by
"Budget Explorer: The Complete US
Federal Budget", at Kowal Design.
||For a single year, choose the second year to be the same as the first year.
Otherwise, the second year must be later than the first year.|
The following documents were used in the development of this presentation of the budget: