FAQ - USAFacts

What is USAFacts?

USAFacts is a not-for-profit, nonpartisan civic initiative making government data easy for all Americans to access and understand. Learn more about USAFacts and its principles here.

Will USAFacts always be free? Are there plans for a paid premium version?

We’re here to provide free access to government data for everyone; no paywalls needed. As long as USAFacts exists, it will be free.

Can I use your data? Do I need to credit USAFacts?

You can absolutely use our data! It’s really your data. It is shared under a Creative Commons license and we do ask that you credit USAFacts when using our curated material. We also love to see what users create – be sure to tag us @usafacts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Can I upload my own datasets to the USAFacts website?

We offer curated data from government sources. For that reason, we do not accept crowd-sourced datasets. However, we’re always interested in learning about potential government data sources. Please email [email protected] if you have data to recommend.

How is USAFacts funded?

USAFacts is privately funded by Steve and Connie Ballmer. We do not accept contributions from external donors in any form (no donations, grants, etc.). We’re completely nonpartisan and don’t answer to a board. We do not receive tax exemption under revenue tax laws and we are not a 501(c)(3) organization. USAFacts is a separate legal entity from the Ballmer Group philanthropy.

Who are Steve and Connie Ballmer and why are they doing this?

Steve Ballmer is the former CEO of Microsoft and current chairman of the LA Clippers basketball team. Connie Ballmer is a former marketer with a longstanding interest in the well-being of children. They founded Ballmer Group to make strategic investments in nonprofits to improve economic mobility for US families facing intergenerational poverty. USAFacts grew out of an understanding that government is the largest investor in citizens’ economic mobility, and the public needed access to see how the money is spent and the results.

We do not make grants and we do not advocate for any views of Steve or Connie Ballmer except for one: that facts matter and public data should be available and understandable.

How often is your data updated?

We completely refresh the data on our website and in our reports once a year, with monthly data updates as new data is released by government agencies

Why do you only use government data?

We rely solely on government data for consistency and to screen for bias. Data curated by think tanks, academics, or any outlet expressing a viewpoint about the data is not reliably nonpartisan. The US government has a network of statistical agencies tasked with collecting information on government operations and the US population. We believe this is the best source for data to make important decisions. However, government data is not perfect. USAFacts also advocates for higher-quality and more timely government data.

Why is some of your data old?

We publish the most up-to-date government numbers available. Due to funding or staffing levels, collection and release of data can have a significant delay. For example, the US Census Bureau does not have a release date for government employment data beyond 2014 and the Department of Homeland Security has only published figures on the unauthorized immigrant population through 2015. Financial data is also slow to publish—we currently have federal financial data through 2018 and state and local financial data through 2016.

Not all government data is created equal. How do you address reliability and quality issues?

While government data is not perfect, we believe it is the best source for verifiable information about the United States. Most government data is collected by career agency statisticians who work throughout, and independently of, various administrations. USAFacts includes collection issue information, such as the last date data has been reported and the number of reporting jurisdictions. USAFacts is working with government agencies and Congress to improve the quality and timeliness of published data.

Do you provide government data for other countries?

We do not provide data for countries other than the United States.

Why do your financial figures sometimes differ from other government sources?

Figures can vary between agencies depending on how they collect data or classify certain financial assets. Multiple agencies collect and publish financial data for the US government, including the Department of the Treasury, Federal Reserve, and Office of Management and Budget. Figures can vary between agencies depending on how they collect data or classify certain financial assets. For instance, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department treat Social Security and pension obligations quite differently.

Do you adjust for inflation?

We allow the option to adjust financial data for inflation on our website, and generally adjust for the effects of inflation in our reports, with a few exceptions.

When is the API going to be available?

USAFacts is working to build a public API (Application Programming Interface) to allow other websites to interact with our data. A release date for this product has not been set.