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Fiscal Service Launches Citizen Guide to U.S. Government Finances The Bureau of the Fiscal Service released a new data visualization on their website to show the public the costs of […]

Fiscal Service Launches Citizen Guide to U.S. Government Finances

The Bureau of the Fiscal Service released a new data visualization on their website to show the public the costs of government business. Released as part of the Citizen Guide to U.S. Government Finances, the visualization categorizes federal spending into several charts. Greg Till, (Acting) Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Data Transparency, Bureau of the Fiscal Service, says that the goal behind this info tool was to modernize the guide and bring it to an internet audience.

“The Data Lab visualizations involve massive amounts of financial information, particularly relating to spending on government contracts and grants. We took that to apply it to the citizen’s guide. What has resulted is a largely visual document… it doesn’t have a great amount of text associated with it. [Just] a lot of dynamic, interactive visualizations.”

Justin Marsico/Product Manager, Research & Analytics, Bureau of the Fiscal Service, says that citizens want to know more about government spending, but can’t wrap their heads around the staggering numbers involved.

*We’re dealing with really big numbers here. We are talking about $3.3 trillion in revenue coming into the federal government, 4.1 trillion dollars being spent.

What we heard from Americans is that they appreciated us disclosing those high level numbers to them, it was hard to make sense of what all of those numbers mean.

What we tried to do is come up with a number of visualizations that show what 4.1 trillion means.

And think of ways to dissect those numbers so people can understand them.

Like the amount of spending per second over the course of a year.

We tried to start at a high level so when a user goes to the site they can see 4.1 trillion in spending or 3 trillion dollars in revenue or the deficit, and then drill into those categories so they can see the categories, income taxes, payroll taxes and city how the categories have changed over time.

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