$1.3 trillion in federal spending unaccounted for, report finds

September 22, 2011 | Last updated: July 31, 2020

Despite calls for independent bodies to keep government accountable, the Sunlight Foundation’s most recent Clearspending report has found the federal government misreported $1.3 trillion in 2010.

“As the results of Clearspending show, the U.S. continues to lack genuine accountability for government spending,” said Ellen Miller, co-founder and executive director of the Sunlight Foundation. “Spending accountability, data accuracy and independent review will help correct the vast misreporting.”

An Obama administration executive order in response to their earlier findings called for a board to enforce strong federal spending transparency, and the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) was introduced in the U.S. House this summer to establish a similar independent tracking body. Neither plan has come to fruition yet.

“Although we’ve seen improvements in the past year, the truth is we cannot fully account for how the federal government spends about $1.3 trillion,” Miller continued. “That’s no negligible amount, especially when you compare it to the ‘Super Committee’s’ task of finding $1.5 trillion in deficit cuts.”

The data inaccuracies that caused the $1.3 trillion in misreported funds account for 94.5 percent of all the grant spending data reported in the fiscal year 2008 through 2010, showing only a one percent decrease from misreported funds in 2008.