FAQ

What is USAFacts?

USAFacts is a not-for-profit, nonpartisan civic initiative making government data easy for all Americans to access and understand. Learn more about USAFacts and our principles here.

Will USAFacts always be free? Are there plans for a paid premium version?

USAFacts is here to provide free access to government data for everyone. No paywalls, period. As long as USAFacts exists, it will be free.

How is USAFacts funded?

USAFacts is privately funded by Steve Ballmer and does not accept any contributions from external donors whatsoever. We’re nonpartisan and don’t answer to a board. We do not receive a tax exemption under revenue tax laws and we’re not a 501(c)(3) organization. We do not accept advertising dollars of any kind.

Who is Steve Ballmer and why is he doing this?

Steve Ballmer is the current chairman of the LA Clippers basketball team and the former CEO of Microsoft. The Ballmer Group was founded to make strategic investments in nonprofits to improve the economic mobility for families facing intergenerational poverty. To aid those efforts, Steve wanted to understand what governments spend on programs to help the American people and the outcomes of those programs. However, unlike businesses, US governments are not mandated to compile reports on their expenditures. Steve hired data analysts to collect the numbers over months, resulting in the Government 10-K. USAFacts grew out of an understanding that Americans need access to government data to understand the state of the nation.

USAFacts does not make grants and doesn’t advocate for any views of Steve or Connie Ballmer except for one: that facts matter and public data should be widely available and understandable.

Can I use your data? Do I need to credit USAFacts?

You can absolutely use the data here. It’s shared under a Creative Commons license; please credit USAFacts when using our curated material. We also love to see what readers create – be sure to tag @usafacts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Can I upload my own datasets to the USAFacts website?

USAFacts only uses data provided by US governments, so we don’t accept crowd-sourced datasets. However, we’re always interested in learning about potential government data sources. Please email [email protected] if you have data to recommend.

Why do you only use government data?

USAFacts relies solely on government data for consistency and to screen for bias. Data curated by think tanks, academics, or any outlet expressing a viewpoint about the data is not reliably nonpartisan. The US government has a network of statistical agencies tasked with collecting information about government operations and the US population. USAFacts believes this is the best source for data to make important decisions about policy and democracy. However, we continue to advocate for higher-quality and more timely government data.

How often is your data updated?

Many of our core metrics are pulled from government sources once a year, if not more, and we update datasets as government agencies release monthly numbers. We also publish weekly reports on an array of data topics in the news.

Why is some of your data old?

We publish the most up-to-date government numbers available. Due to funding or staffing levels at government agencies, collection and release of data can have a significant delay. We addressed some aspects of the lagging nature of government data in this letter.

How do you address reliability and quality issues within government data? How do readers know it’s nonpartisan?

Most government data is collected by career agency statisticians who work throughout, and independently of, various administrations. While government data is not perfect, USAFacts believes it is the best source for verifiable information about the United States. The metrics at USAFacts.org call out any issues regarding collection, such as the last time an agency reported the data or the number of reporting jurisdictions.

Do you provide government data for other countries?

We do not provide data for countries other than the United States.

Why do your financial figures sometimes differ from other government sources?

Figures can vary between agencies, depending on how they collect data or classify certain financial assets. Multiple agencies collect and publish financial data for the US government, including the Department of the Treasury, Federal Reserve, and Office of Management and Budget. For instance, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department treat Social Security and pension obligations quite differently.

Do you adjust for inflation?

USAFacts gives readers the option to adjust financial data for inflation on our site. We generally adjust for the effects of inflation in our reports, with a few exceptions.

When is the API going to be available?

USAFacts is working to build a public API (Application Programming Interface) to allow other websites to interact with data but has not set a release date.