Sign up for updates: 
Skip to main content  
Accountability and Transparency - This is your money. You have a right to know where it's going and how it's being spent. Learn what steps we're taking to conduct oversight of funds distributed under this law in order to prevent fraud, waste and abuse. Fraud, Waste and Abuse - Large amount of cash can attract fraud. Learn how to report any suspected waste and misuse of the recovery money.State, Local, Tribal and Territorial Resources - Curious about recovery progress in your specific area? Learn more about Recovery efforts here.Agency Progress and Resources - We're bringing transparency and accountability to all areas of government.  Learn about Recovery investments and grant programs at government agencies and departments.
Frequently Asked Questions is the main vehicle for finding out how taxpayer dollars are being spent to rejuvenate our economy. As we embark on this unprecedented journey of transparency and accountability, there are bound to be lots of questions from both citizens wanting to track where their money is going and government agencies trying to provide that detailed information.

Below you’ll find the most frequently asked questions from both communities.

Frequently Asked Questions - Citizens

Frequently Asked Questions - Agencies

Frequently Asked Questions - Citizens

Q: What is
A: is a website that lets you, the taxpayer, figure out where the money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is going. There are going to be a few different ways to search for information. Within days after the signing of the legislation, Federal agencies will start distributing funds, and you will be able to see which states, Congressional districts, and even Federal contractors are receiving them. As soon as we are able to, we'll display that information visually, through maps, charts, and graphics. (Back to Top)

Q: Where can I learn more about how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will affect the budget?

A: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has calculated the impact that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will have on the federal government's budget deficit. You can review those calculations in full, or read a summary on the CBO blog. For more information visit the White House website or, for legislative information, the Library of Congress's THOMAS. (Back to Top)

Q: How will the Recovery Act work?

A: Very soon, the different agencies -- such as the Departments of Education; Health and Human Services; and Energy -- will decide who will receive award grants and contracts. Sometimes the money will go to a state government; other times, the funds will go directly to a school, hospital, contractor, or other organization. Agencies will then deliver that information to the team. We will subsequently make the information available on, and you will be able to track where the money is going. You'll be able to search by state or even by Congressional district; you'll be able to look up names of Federal contractors or other recipients of Federal dollars; and you'll be able to send in comments, thoughts, ideas, questions, and any responses you have to what you find. (Back to Top)

Q: I heard I'd be able to track recovery funds. Why can't I do that?

A: You aren't able to track funds yet because we have not yet started receiving information from Federal agencies on how they are going to allocate the money. It takes a little bit of time for them to make sure your money is going to be spent wisely. Right now, the site features an overview of the law and an explanation of what it is intended to accomplish. You will have access to data as soon as we begin receiving it from agencies. (Back to Top)

Q: Who runs
A: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act establishes an oversight board of inspectors general (the watchdogs of government) called the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, which is responsible for overseeing Federal agencies to ensure that there is transparency and accountability for the expenditure of recovery funds. For the interim period until that board becomes operational, the President has coordinated a team from across Federal agencies to track Recovery Act dollars and report findings on this website. (Back to Top)

Q: I want to help. What can I do?
A: Over the course of the spring, increasing amounts of information will become available on that will show where the money is going. We are counting on you to peruse that information and tell us what you find. Please share your stories, your ideas, and your comments. They will then be sent to the Board for their review. (Back to Top)

Q: How can I see how much recovery money is coming to my community?
A: Until the funding is distributed by the Federal government to states and local governments, and eventually to your community, we won't be able to determine exactly where all of the funding will go. Over the next few weeks and months, there's going to be a lot of data coming in, as we coordinate with different agencies. As soon as the first dollars start to go out, you'll be able to track where the money is going. Detailed state maps will be available to assist your tracking. (Back to Top)

Q: What's the purpose of the new legislation?
A: The purpose of the Recovery Act is to create and save jobs, jumpstart our economy, and build the foundation for long-term economic growth. The Act includes measures to modernize the nation's infrastructure, enhance America's energy independence, expand educational opportunities, increase access to health care, provide tax relief, and protect those in greatest need. (Back to Top)

Q: Where can I find the full text of The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009?
A: The text of the law can be found in Text or PDF format here. (Back to Top)

Q: What type of programs will this recovery package fund?
A: The Recovery Act specifies appropriations for a wide range of Federal programs and will increase or extend certain benefits payable under the Medicaid, unemployment compensation, and nutrition assistance programs. The legislation also reduces individual and corporate income tax collections and makes a variety of other changes to tax laws. The package provides funds that will:
  • Create a framework for clean, efficient, American energy;
  • Transform our economy with science and technology;
  • Modernize roads, bridges, transit and waterways;
  • Overhaul education for the 21st Century;
  • Dispense tax cuts to make work pay and create jobs;
  • Expand access to healthcare and lower costs;
  • Provide assistance to workers hurt by the economy;
  • Save public sector jobs and protect vital services; (Back to Top)

Q: What will I be able to locate on
A: Federal agencies are taking in bids for recovery projects, so right now, features a summary of the funds that are allocated for different programs, as well as the responsible Federal agencies. As Federal agencies and other recipient organizations report information about their spending plans, we will post that information on the site. We are currently developing systems to track the funds and report results. (Back to Top)

Q: What’s a better way to find the information I’m looking for -- browsing or searching?
A: The website will have both functions, but for now, browsing is a better bet. As we begin to fill the database with more data, the search function will be more useful in finding specific information. (Back to Top)

Q: How does differ from

A: tracks only the targeted investments allocated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. collects data about all types of contracts, grants, loans, and spending across government agencies. (Back to Top)

Q: How can I contact the Administration with questions or comments about and the recovery package?

A: The best method to comment or ask a question on is to use our contact us form. The question or message will be referred to the best person to handle the matter, and they will respond as quickly as possible.

For questions about the federal government, visit or call 1 (800) FED INFO (1-800-333-4636) (8 am-8 pm ET Monday-Friday). (Back to Top)

Q: Is accessible for people for with disabilities?

A: complies with all of the automatic checkpoints of the Section 508 Accessibility Guidelines, and has been manually verified for nearly all of the manual checkpoints.

This compliance has been tested using Watchfire WebXACT program. Because uses dynamically generated Web pages, it is not possible to test literally every page. However, each dynamically generated output style can be tested. We plan to continue to upgrade's accessibility for individuals with disabilities in forthcoming updates. (Back to Top)

Q: What is a fiscal year (FY)?

A: For accounting purposes, the Federal government uses a defined 12-month period as a financial or fiscal year. The Federal fiscal year begins on October 1 and ends on September 30 of the following calendar year. For instance, fiscal year 2009 is 10/1/2008 - 9/30/2009. (Back to Top)

Q: Is the spending data on available in a format (like XML) that developers can use to create mashups and gadgets?

A: Not at this time. But, as new systems are developed to capture the allocations and expenditures under the Act, we plan to make that data available in exportable form. (Back to Top)

Frequently Asked Questions - Agencies

Q: To what extent does the Recovery Act preserve access to Federal contracts and procurement opportunities for women- and minority-owned businesses?
A: There is nothing in the Recovery Act that changes any existing Federal laws or regulations in place dedicated to establishing or fostering the growth of women- or minority-owned businesses. Moreover, as noted more fully in Section 1.6 of OMB's Initial Implementing Guidance to agencies for the Recovery Act, dated February 18, 2009, the Executive Branch shall distribute Recovery Act funds in accordance with all anti-discrimination and equal opportunity statutes, regulations, Executive Orders, and policies that apply to the expenditure of funds under Federal contracts, grants, cooperative agreements, loans, and other forms of Federal assistance. Generally applicable civil rights laws also continue to apply.(Back to Top)

Q: What are the reporting requirements for Federal agencies that are engaging in Recovery Act-related activities but did not receive Recovery Act funding, and are there any exceptions?
A: Federal agencies receiving Recovery Act funds are subject to the reporting requirements outlined in OMB guidance to track and monitor all Recovery Act dollars in a manner that provides transparency and accountability for Congress and taxpayers. It is expected that these agencies will incur some incidental costs to be funded through regular appropriations, which are not subject to the reporting requirements. Agencies not receiving Recovery Act funds should not report on incidental Recovery-related expenses that are incurred by normal agency appropriations; however, such agencies should report on any Recovery funding they receive through interagency transfers. There is one exception: Inspectors General are required to report monthly on total funding used for Recovery oversight activities at their respective agencies. This total will include both the Recovery Act funds and the non-Recovery Act funds spent on Recovery oversight activities (i.e. costs absorbed by normal appropriations). This enables a calculation of total dollars spent on Recovery oversight throughout the government. (Back to Top)

Q: What are the reporting requirements for Inspectors General that are engaged in oversight of Recovery Act-related activities?
A: Inspectors General are required to independently report monthly on all obligations for Recovery oversight activities at their respective agencies for both Recovery Act funds and non-Recovery Act funds. Monthly reports must be submitted no later than 5 working days after the last day of the reporting month. This monthly reporting meets all OMB reporting requirements for Inspectors General under the Recovery Act. (Back to Top)

Q: Do reporting requirements of the Recovery Act apply to existing, non-Recovery funded activities or contracts when a Federal agency supplements those activities with Recovery funds?
A: The Recovery Act reporting requirements apply to Recovery funds only and do not extend to existing, non-Recovery funded activities or contracts. In instances where a Federal agency chooses to supplement existing activities or contracts with Recovery funds, only the Recovery funds are reported. An agency's contracting officer should ensure expansions to any existing contracts are amended to meet the Recovery Act reporting requirements. (Back to Top)

Q: If the Governor of my State submits a certification under Section 1607, does the Governor also have to submit additional (e.g., agency-specific or program-specific) certifications in order to satisfy Section 1607?
A: No. Governors are not required to submit more than one certification under Section 1607. Once a Governor submits a Section 1607 certification, no additional agency-specific or program-specific certifications under Section 1607 are required for those States. However, other provisions of the Recovery Act do require additional certifications. For example, section 1511 (infrastructure), section 1201 (transportation grants), section 410 (energy grants), and section 14004 (fiscal stabilization) each require varying forms of additional certifications by state or local entities before they can access specific federal funds made available under the Act. (Back to Top)

Q: Is there flexibility to alter any deadlines outlined in the OMB Guidance?
A: OMB is accepting Federal agency extension requests for the 20-day and 30-day grants announcement deadlines only (§5.2; p. 33). No other deadline extensions or waivers will be authorized at this time unless otherwise specified in law or guidance. All extension request letters to the OMB Director must include detailed justification and be sent to, OMB’s general email address for Federal agencies to send inquiries related to the Recovery Act. (Back to Top)

Q:  How should agencies account for and report on overhead costs of Recovery funds?
A:  Overhead or administrative costs are not data elements currently captured in either the monthly or weekly reports required by the OMB Guidance. However, if asked by OMB or Congress, an agency must be prepared to report on the amount or percentage of funds that were spent on administrative activities. This includes funds used to reimburse non-Recovery funding used for Recovery-related administrative activities.  The calculation and tracking of overhead costs should follow existing agency practice or guidance an agency develops for its Recovery-related activities. (Back to Top)

Q:  Will OMB be issuing guidance on the requirement in Section 1511 of the Recovery Act related to the state and local certifications for infrastructure investments?
A:  OMB does not plan to issue formal guidance directly to state or local governments, but agencies should seek to do so, as appropriate, for potential infrastructure project funding through their programs.  Agencies should monitor state Recovery Act websites to ensure that recipients are complying with Section 1511 and engage state and local governments during the development of any relevant guidance, as practical. (Back to Top)

Q:  What actions must a Federal agency take when it issues guidance for recipients (e.g., state and local governments) regarding the Recovery Act?
A:  When a Federal agency issues guidance on the Recovery Act, the agency must immediately post the guidance on the agency's Recovery Act web page.  In addition, the agency must disseminate the guidance, to the maximum extent practical, to a broad array of external stakeholders (e.g., Governors, State Legislatures, state program offices, local government officials, etc.) and respond promptly to their queries about the guidance.  Federal agencies are encouraged to engage state and local governments during the development of any relevant guidance. (Back to Top)

Q:  What is the status of the effort to develop government wide standard terms and conditions?
A:  OMB established working groups to develop standard terms and conditions to be included within grants, contracts, loans and loan guarantees, or other forms of assistance, as appropriate and in compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA).  It is expected that these standard terms and conditions will be published in interim final rules or otherwise issued for agency use in March 2009.  Agencies intending to finalize award agreement(s) prior to the issuance of the government wide standard should ensure that any agency developed terms and conditions related to the Recovery Act reflect the specific language of the Act and are approved by OMB, if required by the PRA.  Agencies should consult OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs if they are uncertain as to whether the PRA requires OMB approval of agency developed terms and conditions. (Back to Top)

Q: Are agencies required to submit major communications, formula block grant allocations, and agency weekly reports via e-mail using the provided standard excel templates? Even if they have successfully implemented an ATOM 1.0 or RSS feed for the same information?
A: Yes. All reporters are required to submit all Recovery Act major communications, formula block grant allocations, and agency weekly reports as described in the OMB Guidance using the referenced excel templates. This is required even if agencies have implemented the feed-based publication approach. Dual reporting is to ensure receipt of information and integration of the same into during this start-up period. OMB will reassess this dual reporting requirement in the Final Guidance. (Back to Top)