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Ever wonder how the government spends federal funds? Where do the dollars go? How does the government communicate with the public about federal spending?
Well, there’s a website, Data Lab, which aims to answer all of these questions! Behind Data Lab is an incredible team of amazing public servants.
We had a chance to chat with Grace Lim from Data Lab, located in the Office of the Chief Data Officer in the Bureau of the Fiscal Service at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Grace and the team at Data Lab are doing incredible work that we are excited to highlight.
Data Lab’s Grace Lim spoke with Performance.gov about her team’s work to make federal finance data fun, transparent, and accessible.
The Team is Small but Mighty
The Data Lab team inspires both individuals and organizations to take a deeper dive into federal data and engage more in public sector finances. Grace told us how she spends her days working towards a public that’s informed about federal finance by creating beautiful and accessible data. This small but mighty team, made up of data analysts, UX designers, and web developers, are a community that engages the public with relevant, data-driven stories of federal finance information. The group brings a diversity of age, gender, racial/cultural backgrounds, and skill sets, which enables them to better tell federal finance stories with a range of perspectives. Through these stories, Grace and the team provide folks who are less familiar with federal spending and finance data an easy point of entry to learn more.
Their Work Trends on Reddit
Through imagery, stories, and facts, the Data Lab website is instantly inviting for even the least financially savvy amongst us. Don’t just take our word for it – Data Lab’s accessible and transparent financial information is popping up everywhere! Their website is cited across traditional media and social media, from Forbes to Reddit. Most recently, the Data Lab team created a COVID-19 analysis, outlining the Federal Government’s financial relief efforts in response to the pandemic. The analysis has received attention from the public and government agencies. Notably, members of the Congressional Research Service are using Data Lab’s COVID-19 analysis and particularly appreciate that obligations, outlays, and unobligated funds are provided by specific funding bills, helping them better do their job.
Another popular and frequently cited resource is the Data Lab’s America’s Finance Guide, which is a great resource on federal revenue, spending, deficit, and debt. The team conducted extensive user research when creating America’s Finance Guide to better depict the financial picture of the U.S. and make it easier for users to understand.
Make Finance Data Available to All
Grace underscored the importance of Data Lab’s resources being used far and wide. “When we see the public cite our America’s Finance Guide pages in their social dialogues, for example, it’s often an average Reddit or Twitter user responding to someone who is curious about the federal deficit or debt. This shows us that our content is not only trusted, but also easy to share and access.” The Data Lab team is pleased to see their work used in so many ways by such a wide range of individuals. It proves the impact of their work, which is to make government finances accessible and transparent so that people can and want to learn more.
Grace and the Data Lab team are continually working on projects that make data-driven learning about federal finance fun, beautiful, and accessible.
If you would like to receive updates on new content from Grace and the Data Lab team, subscribe to their listserv. Don’t hesitate to reach out at USAspending.Help@ Fiscal.Treasury.gov and share your thoughts. The Data Lab team is eager to hear from you!