Chart Notes


All spending data for the user-created charts are fiscal year outlays from the president’s FY2015 budget. The data for 2014 are the official estimates.

All data is shown in billions of dollars. Thus if a value on a chart line is 0.050, it is $50 million.

The president’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) provides a database of spending on all federal agencies at Our charting program aggregates all the data in the OMB database by department and by subdepartment spending categories.

We have converted all data to constant (or inflation-adjusted) 2014 dollars using the OMB composite deflator. Put another way, all chart lines show spending after removing the effects of inflation from the data. Other than that, we have not altered any of the data.

Note that some chart lines have negative values, which occurs in the OMB data for a number of reasons. One reason is that fees received by some agencies are larger than the spending. A good example is the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Another data issue is that spending may gyrate dramatically in those agencies that issue large amounts of loans, such as Housing Programs within HUD and Federal Student Aid within Education. The gyrations can stem from reestimates of the subsidy values of the loans.

One final note regards major restructurings in the government. You can see that the chart line for the Department of Homeland Security extends back before the department was created in 2002. When such restructurings occur, the OMB revises its historical data to show spending levels as if the department had previously existed based on past spending in the department’s component agencies.

For any questions or comments, please email Chris Edwards at cedwards [at] cato [dot] org.