Principles

As we built USAFacts, we encountered several challenges and made many decisions.

We depend on information from government agencies. We are limited by the timeliness, availability, and consistency of data collected by government. For example, the most recent year for which the Census Bureau has published state and local government budget data is 2017.

We show aggregated government statistics. We combine federal, state, and local statistics to show the full picture of government.

We do not propose policy. We have assembled this report consisting of unbiased government data so the American public can draw its own conclusions.

We are not proposing that government should be a business. Although we use a corporate reporting structure, government is different from business in significant ways including its purpose (focused on outcomes for citizens, not profit) and structure (accountability is decentralized).

We have made judgments about which data to show. Sometimes, different sources of data within the government contradict each other. When this happens, we have selected one to use consistently.

We will continue to update data. Government agencies release data at different times and with different frequencies. We will update as data becomes available and tell you what release of data we are using from each source.

We are expanding our database. While we include much significant data, we have not yet covered everything. We will continue to expand into different areas and plan to include more detailed state & local data in the future. The Penn Wharton Budget Model (PWBM) data store powers USAFacts and is responsible for expanding and maintaining the data used by USAFacts and for providing USAFacts with tools for curation of associated meta data and data relationships. Data series are categorized from an expanding list of data sources, and various conversions are often applied (e.g., inflation and population adjustments).

We want your feedback. This is a public resource, and we want to improve it based on your needs. If there is anything you would like to see included or comments you would like to share, please contact us at [email protected]