(WASHINGTON)—The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) launched the latest version of its COVID-19 relief spending tracker today, with new demographic information, a mapping feature, and an industry-by-industry breakdown.
Users can now explore $1.6 trillion in federal spending, which was authorized by Congress to respond to the pandemic and ease its economic impact, with an interactive map, in some cases down to the county or zip code level. POGO’s tracker also allows users to overlay spending data with demographics and unemployment data to put the relief aid into context.
In addition to the map tool, users have access to a searchable database, from which they can download datasets.
POGO hopes that this data—and the accountability work it will enable—will help inform policymakers on where the first wave of spending went wrong and where priorities for future funding packages must lie. Programs like expanded unemployment insurance appear to have helped Americans weather the economic downturn for a few months, but the business loan programs saw millions siphoned off by fraud and companies that didn’t desperately need help. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated that a new relief bill should be a top priority now that Election Day has passed. And before Congress appropriates new spending, lawmakers must analyze whether the first round of aid went to those who truly need it.
“We’re thrilled to launch a tracker that accounts for as much federal spending as possible and puts it in crucial context. Now there’s more work to do,” said Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project On Government Oversight. “The federal government must learn from the mistakes of its first round of funding and make sure additional spending really goes to those who need it the most—and isn’t lost to fraud, waste and abuse.”
This tracker, which was initially launched in September, is the most comprehensive available, with extensive data on the federal government’s assistance and contract spending, as well as unemployment rates. The data includes $1.6 trillion in assistance, including loans and grants, and $26.6 billion in contracts. As part of the dataset, POGO uncovered $1.4 billion in contracts that appear to be related to COVID-19 that were not listed by the federal government as pandemic spending.
POGO’s dataset includes all relief programs for which we could find spending data with details on amounts going to specific recipients or locations. We set no minimum dollar amount threshold for awards issued, so users will be able to see a broad range of loans, grants, and contracts awarded by the government.
Of the more than $2.9 trillion appropriated to respond to COVID-19, there is still approximately $1.3 trillion in spending that POGO cannot account for—either because it remains unspent or agencies spent it without releasing data. But the government hasn’t released enough information for us to know why that money can’t be accounted for. The federal government must make this spending public, as well as regional breakdowns of extended unemployment insurance payments and mandatory sick leave for workers who fell ill with the coronavirus. Additionally, agencies should release key details previously withheld from major relief programs, including the names of companies that received Paycheck Protection Program loans under $150,000 and the names of aid recipients of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.
Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that investigates and exposes waste, corruption, abuse of power, and when the government fails to serve the public or silences those who report wrongdoing.
We champion reforms to achieve a more effective, ethical, and accountable federal government that safeguards constitutional principles.