Thursday, March 5, 2020

Significant Revision to Previously Published Homeless Grant Funding Data FY 2018.

I recently did a post (that I have now deleted) that included FY 2018 Oregon obligations for 9 federal homeless related grant programs from several different agencies. The data source that I used was the (official) USA Spending website.

In that post I said : "It is more difficult than it should be to track federal homeless grant funding on a local basis".  It turns out this was an understatement AND the total FY 2018 funding I reported was significantly HIGHER than what more detailed transaction level now show.

Thanks to some welcome feedback from a reader I went back to look at the data and discovered a likely problem that resulted in the overstatement of dollars obligated during FY 2018.  The way I look at this data is NOT as the total budgeted or awarded grant amount from a fiscal year, but instead the total spending from a grant during the fiscal year 2018.

Nerd Alert, a detailed explanation follows:
After CFDA name filters are selected in USA Spending website, the options given for download include award level detail or transaction level detail. When award level detail is chosen the download does not include an "federal action date" data field. When the transaction level data download option is chosen there IS an "action date" field and all entries are within the chosen (federal) FY. 

In the new workbook HERE. I sum dollar totals using the dollars in the "federal action obligation " field. The transaction level download also includes negative entries in this field, so it is possible for a specific geographic area OR for a grantee to show a net negative sum for a FY, IF obligations minus "de-obligations" for that FY were negative. 

The "total obligated amount" field I previously used is still in the data, I just did not use it to sum total funding.  {Note: In a quick check it appears that the sum of the "total obligated amount" in the transaction level download in some cases is different than the sum in the prior award level download, so in any case I would NOT used the "total obligated amount to sum award totals). 

The (not very helpful) Excel data dictionary for the database is HERE; for a deep dive into multiple efforts to track federal spending take a look at the 2019 CRS report HERE.

Back to the NEW Data
SO, I went back and downloaded the transaction level detail for these same 9 programs and created a new workbook that includes several worksheets:
  • A Pivot table for the 3 country PDX metro area (and the related data worksheet). This is the default view that appears when the file is opened.
  • A Pivot table for Oregon counties (and the related data worksheet).
  • An added Pivot table for the US/ALL States (and the related data worksheet). 
  • A worksheet that includes sub awards (I did not use this data in any of the pivot tables)
  • A links worksheet: It inks to the two types of zip downloads i have created to date, "Awards" and "Transactions".  
  • A CFDA worksheet that shows a list of the 9 programs I used to filter the USA spending data
There is data from 9 federal grant programs in the workbook, including these programs from HUD, VA, HHS, DOL, and the Education Department. Note that some for two agencies grant awards are made to state agencies in Salem/Marion County, and there is no data showing where they were subsequently awarded within the state (Department of Education and HHS ):

NOT Included:
Note that this does NOT include 
  1. Any HUD CDBG, HOME,Housing Trust fund, public housing, or voucher spending for homeless programs, including the 2,000+ unit HUD VASH program targeted specifically for homeless veterans. 
  2. Any direct obligations to or on behalf of homeless persons. (SSI, VA disability, etc.)
  3. Any homeless contract obligations using other federal funding sources. 
  4. State and local spending that does not use a federal source. 
The NEW Excel workbook I constructed shows for ONE fiscal year (2018).
  • Total 3 county Portland metro area homeless grant obligations of $36.4 million (NOT THE $76 million previously reported).
  • Total Oregon homeless grant obligations of $52.2 Million ( NOT the $111 million previously reported).
Here's is the revised snapshot of the three county Portland Metro homeless funding for these programs in 2018.

Originally created and posted on the Oregon Housing Blog

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