Obligations Incurred vs Federal Action Obligation

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    AmandaC - Treasury

    Hi Marjolein - Thank you for your questions.

    >For the obligations per federal account, can that number be found in "obligations incurred" from the files downloaded from "Custom Account Data" (aggregating by federal account)?

    That's the right field, but you will need to make sure you download the files specific to the period in question in the Spending Explorer. The file Spending Explorer uses, at the federal account level, is the 'account breakdown by program activity and object class' file. Also please note that there is a difference of operation between Spending Explorer and Custom Account Data download in one regard. Spending Explorer only shows data submitted specifically on the requested period, while Custom Account Data download will also surface the most recent quarterly data (for agencies submitting quarterly) if you select an 'in-between' period. For example, if you select Period 08 (which doesn't fall on the quarterly deadlines like P03, P06, P09, and P12 does) in Spending Explorer, you'll just get the agencies that submitted monthly in the results. Whereas Custom Account Data will give you data from P06 from the agencies submitting quarterly. You can filter this out of the Custom Account Data download using the 'submission_period' field if you want to match the behavior of the Spending Explorer.

    > And for the obligations per recipients per federal account, is that created using "federal action obligation" under advanced Award search (searching by account, aggregating by recipient) ?

    If you want to replicate the Spending Explorer at the Recipient or Award level, you should use the 'Account Breakdown by Award' file in Custom Account Data download, keeping in mind the caveats above about quarter/month. That file includes recipients and awards along with the specific obligation activity that occurred during the period in question. The relevant field is "transaction_obligated_amount".

    > Should all "federal action obligation" returned from searching in advanced Award search under a federal account add up to the "obligations incurred" number in "Custom Account Data". If not, why not?

    No, because that number uses the award data sources, Financial Assistance Broker Submission (FABS) and Federal Procurement Data Systems (FPDS), not the 'Account Breakdown by Award' data source that Spending Explorer uses. It's also not going to be specific to a given period like Spending Explorer is given that the award table in Advanced Search results is award-wide (across time).

    Please let us know if you have any other questions or concerns.

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    Marjolein Oostrom

    Thanks, that’s very helpful! Your directions worked perfectly for replicating the USASpending explorer, thank you!  So if you sum up account 072-1035 grants for Account breakdown per PA in FY 2020 (whole year), the sum of obligation incurred is 5.1 million (5.3 million including everything like personal). But if you sum up that account by breakdown per award “transaction obligated amount”, the sum is 4. 8 million. Why in general does the “transaction obligation amount” for all awards with account breakdown by award not add up to the “obligations incurred” for grants, subsidies and contribution by federal account breakdown by PA?

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    AmandaC - Treasury

    Hi Marjolein,

    Award data is a subset of total spending data. Awards only capture money that leaves the government to external entities and individuals in the form of 'federal awards'. It does not capture things like government salaries, expenses, rent and utility payments on government buildings, travel, interest payments on the debt, etc. As a result, the 'account breakdown by award' obligated amounts are always going to be less than or equal to the total obligated amounts for that account in the account breakdown by program activity file.

    Note that the object class 'grants, subsidies, and contributions' is (somewhat confusingly) not entirely composed of things that are considered federal awards: it includes more than just grants. This is why that number specifically still exceeds the amounts in the 'account breakdown by award file'.

    Please let us know if you have any additional questions. 

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    Marjolein Oostrom

    Ah, thank you very much for all your help!

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