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FedSpending.org Glossary

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Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA):
The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Program is a database maintained by the General Services Administration that classifies all federal programs that provide funding to local government agencies, private institutions, and individuals. Each program is assigned a number and name. See the CFDA website for more information.

Central Contracting Register (CCR):
Central Contractor Registration (CCR) is the primary registrant database for the U.S. federal government. CCR collects, validates, stores, and disseminates data in support of agency acquisition missions, including federal agency contract and assistance awards. Please note that the term "assistance awards" includes grants, cooperative agreements and other forms of federal assistance. Whether applying for assistance awards, contracts, or other business opportunities, all entities are considered "registrants".

Both current and potential federal government registrants are required to register in CCR in order to be awarded contracts by the federal government. Registrants are required to complete a one-time registration to provide basic information relevant to procurement and financial transactions. Registrants must update or renew their registration at least once per year to maintain an active status. In addition, entities (private non-profits, educational organizations, state and regional agencies, etc.) that apply for assistance awards from the federal government through Grants.gov must now register with CCR as well. However, registration in no way guarantees that a contract or assistance award will be awarded. See the Central Contracting Register webpage for more information.

Competition Category:
There are five data fields in FPDS that are useful for assessing the level of competition of a contract: the Extent Competed, Reason Not Competed, Number of Offers Received, Statutory Exception to Fair Opportunity, and Type of Set Aside. FedSpending.org has combined information from all five of these fields into one overall summation of the amount of competition for each transaction, called the competition category. More specific "transactions" are summed by these new competition categories in various tables. See About the Data for more information.

Contract:
A federal contract is an agreement between the federal government and a private entity, for-profit or non-profit, to execute mandated services for a fee for the federal government. Federal contracts data contained in FedSpending.org are based on the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS) government database. FPDS includes procurement contract transactions reported by approximately 65 U.S. Government, Executive Branch, departments, bureaus, agencies, and commissions and summarizes who bought what, from whom, and where.

Contractor:
Entity that performs the service mandated by a contract with a federal agency. In some cases, the service will actually be performed by a subcontractor, subject to the approval of and conditions set by the contracting agency. In other cases, such subcontracting is not permitted under the contract. Contractors are usually for-profit companies, but thhey also include universities, independent nonprofits, hospitals, and other types of entities.

Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS):
The Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number is a unique nine-character identification number provided to entities interested in contracting with the federal government. (There are extended 13-digit numbers, but since the last four digits are most often zeroes, Fedspending uses only the first 9 digits.) The numbers are distributed by the private company Dun & Bradstreet (D&B). Companies interested in contracting with the government must have a different 9-digit D-U-N-S number for each physical location and different address in the company, as well as each legally distinct division that may be co-housed at the same address or location. Contact Dun and Bradstreet for more information.

Differences Between Place of Performance and Contractor/Recipient Locations
The Place of Performance search shows the geographic area where the majority of the work was done under the award. The Place of Performance location is not necessarily the same as the address of the contractor/recipient. When you fill in a city, county, or state in the Contractor/Recipient search, you're searching for recipients whose address is located within that particular city, county or state. When users fill in a city, county, or state in the Place of Performance search, FedSpending.org searches for work done in that geographic area. Therefore, searches by the same city, county, or state in both the Place of Performance search and Contractor/Recipient searches, will yield two different results.

Direct Payments:
A classification of federal assistance spending in FedSpending.org. This classification of spending contains two types of payments - "specified use" and "unrestricted use."

Federal Assistance:
Federal assistance represents a broad category of federal spending including direct payments to individuals (like Social Security), loans, insurance, and grants. A grant is a particular type of federal assistance spending. At times, FedSpending.org broadly refers to all federal assistance as simply "Grants," mostly for display purposes (e.g. in the tabs at the top of the left-hand navigation bar).

Federal Assistance Award Data System (FAADS):
One of the current databases maintained by the federal government to report information and data on all types of financial assistance awards made by federal agencies listed in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (see above). The data includes the type and amount of financial assistance, the type and location of the recipient, and the geographic place of performance. See the FAADS website for more information.

Federal Fiscal Year:
The federal government operates on a fiscal year that begins on October 1 and ends the following September 30. Fiscal years are notated with FYXXXX or FYXX. The year notates the calendar year when the fiscal year will end. For example, fiscal year 2007 (FY07) runs from October 1, 2006 through September 30, 2007.

Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS):
The current database system the U.S. federal government uses to report information and data on all federal contracts. FPDS supplies the majority of the contracting data found in FedSpending.org. See the FPDS website for more information.

Grants:
A classification of federal assistance spending in FedSpending.org. A federal grant is an authorized expenditure to a non-federal entity for a defined public or private purpose in which services are not rendered to the federal government. This classification of spending comes in two types - "formula grants" and "project grants."

Grant Recipient:
Any non-federal entity, usually a state or local government, or a private, usually non-profit organization, such as an educational or religious institution, a relief agency, or an individual.

Individual:
One of the categories of recipient type in FedSpending.org for federal assistance (Grants) is called "Individuals." This designation comes from the government's FAADS database and refers to a person who receives federal assistance as an entity independent of any public or private institution. Examples of this type of spending would be social security retirement insurance payments to citizens, payments to individuals qualifying for food stamps, and other individual payments. (Example of "Individual" in FedSpending.org)

Insurance:
Financial assistance provided to assure reimbursement for losses sustained under specified conditions. Coverage may be provided directly by the federal government or through private carriers and may or may not involve the payment of premiums. (Examples of Insurance Assistance)

"invalid or blank":
This usually means there is no data reported in the government database or there is an error in the data reported to the government.

Known vs. Unknown Congressional Districts:
Each transaction is assigned to a congressional district (for federal assistance, the CD where the recipient is located, for federal contracts, both a CD where the contractor is located and one where the work takes place.) Unfortunately, many records have either blank congressional districts or obviously incorrect ones (i.e. a bad state abbreviation, or a district number that does not exist in that state). Since we don't have any way of knowing which CD these records apply to, they are grouped together as "unknown districts" within their state.

Many of the displays that show congressional districts on FedSpending.org do not display the unknown districts - for instance, the "Top 5 Known Congressional Districts" in the summary output does not. However, you should be aware that sometimes the amount which can't be assigned to any district and is therefore unknown is sometimes larger than that assigned to any known district.

Loans:
A classification of federal assistance spending in FedSpending.org. This classification of spending comes in two types - "direct loans" and "guaranteed/insured loans."

Major Agencies / Other Agencies:
FedSpending.org has modified FAADS and FPDS data to streamline the display of federal government agencies. Rather than produce tables that include each sub-agency within the data, it is advantageous to be able to produce tables and output by "major" agency. These generally correspond to departments of the federal government, but some were also chosen because they have a large number of awards/contracts. See the About the Data section for more information.

Negative Numbers in FedSpending.org
Dollar amounts of awards in FedSpending.org are actually amounts of obligations and deobligations, which accounts for the appearance of negative dollar amounts in some parts of FedSpending.org. An obligation is a commitment to pay. A deobligation is "A downward adjustment of previously recorded obligations. This results from the cancellation of a project or contract, price revisions, or corrections of estimates previously recorded as obligations." When negative numbers appear in FedSpending.org, this means the amount of federal resources authorized to be spent has been reduced.

Parent Company:
Due to some limitations in government data, FedSpending.org purchased parent company information from Eagle Eye Publishing, Inc., a business that has worked with FPDS data for many years. When an FPDS search on this site groups together records by parent company, or when a user searches by parent company name, they are using parent company names and IDs supplied by Eagle Eye Publishing, Inc.

There may exist some errors in these parent company assignments, so that transaction records that really apply to different contractors are grouped together. In cooperation with Eagle Eye, we will periodically fix any such errors that are brought to our attention.

Partial Year:
Data on Fedspending may include only part of the latest fiscal year available. For this reason, if the last fiscal year available is a partial one, it is marked with the last fiscal quarter for which some or all data exists -- for instance, FY2011 1Q would mean that some data are available for the first quarter of fiscal year 2011 (i.e. for Oct 1 - Dec 31 of calender year 2010) but that none are yet available for the rest of that fiscal year. Contracts data, assistance data, and Recovery data are obtained through three different databases, so they will in general have three different ending years and quarters.

North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Code:
The NAICS codes are used as a categorization system within contracting data to give a higher level of detail about the type of economic or industrial output being done under a contract. These codes were created jointly by the United States, Canada, and Mexico, and are assigned by the federal government according to the NAICS.

"Other" - Type of Assistance:
The Federal Assistance Award Data System (FAADS) classifies some federal assistance spending into an "other" category. FAADS defines this category as other reimbursable, contingent, intangible, or indirect financial assistance.

"% of total":
Some column headers are titled "% of total." This column lists the percent of total dollars allotted to that entity out of the total amount of money in either the contracting system (Contracts) or the financial assistance system (Grants), not the total in the entire database of FedSpending.org.

Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans Data:
It has become apparent the spending data the SBA reports to the Census Bureau for the FAADS database contains information about loans that were authorized to individuals/businesses but no disbursement of funds was ever made to that individual/business, as well as loans that were both authorized and a disbursement of funds was made. This means that some SBA loans displayed on FedSpending.org were not accepted by the person or business listed as receiving the money. Unfortunately, it is not possible to tell which loans were disbursed and which were simply authorized by the SBA. The Center for Effective Government has alerted the SBA to this problem and is working with them to help to resolve it.

Subsidiary Companies in FedSpending.org
Many large companies may control or incorporate other smaller companies, called subsidiaries. Subsidiaries may have a different name than a parent company for a variety of business and legal reasons. For more information on corporate subsidiaries, click here.

FedSpending.org groups subsidiaries of larger companies under the "contractor names" list in each contractor profile page (available under the "medium (contractor profiles)" level of detail). Contracts for subsidiaries are grouped together under the parent company profile pages in FedSpending.org. It is possible to search for the names of subsidiaries in FedSpending.org and see all individual contracts for all subsidiaries by choosing increased levels of detail in the output.

Transactions:
The issuance, renewal, or modification of a single contract between a contractor and the federal government for the performance of designated tasks. The number of transactions is not equal to the total number of contracts. One contract could have hundreds or thousands of transactions during the course of the contract.