Issues with redesign of

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Alexander Howard

Apr 1, 2015, 11:08:02 AM4/1/15
Sadly, this is not an April Fool's Day joke:

Months after the federal government bought back the federal spending website from a bankrupt contractor, a redesign of the flagship transparency effort looks to have made access to data worse, not better.

Alexander B.Howard
410.849.9808 | @digiphile
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Ginger McCall

Apr 1, 2015, 11:23:49 AM4/1/15
to Alexander Howard,,
This is particularly timely for me because this morning I am using USASpending to research a FOIA. Contracting information that was previously available has now just disappeared. 
Ginger McCall
Associate Director, EPIC
Director, EPIC Open Government Project
1718 Connecticut Ave. NW
Suite 200
Washington, DC 20009

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Zarek, Corinna

Apr 1, 2015, 11:41:02 AM4/1/15
Hi Alex and Ginger (and all),

Would you be willing to say more about what was once available and now is not? I would be glad to discuss with the USAspending team to try to learn more (and share what I can).


Alexander Howard

Apr 1, 2015, 11:43:43 AM4/1/15
to Zarek, Corinna,,,
Hi Corinna at al,

Here's better story on the redesign here: The Treasury is selling this as in improvement by businesses aren't buying that line.

Specific details on changes:

" users can no longer search by the Product and Service Code [.pdf], which indicates a product purchased by the government – such as PSC number 5305 for "screws" – or search by the North American Industry Classification System code, which classifies types of contractors – such as NAICS number 541511 for "Custom Computer Programming Services."

Only top level PSC search and top level NAICS search (a code's first two digits) is enabled with the updated version of the site. Search by indefinite delivery vehicles and procurement instrument identifier, or IDV PIID, is also unavailable with the update. Search by IDV PIID allowed users to research contract ceilings, period of performance dates and task orders for specific contracting vehicles."

The update also:

  • Eliminated search by parent company – only subsidiaries are now enabled;
  • removed keyword search capabilities;
  • eliminated date range filtering; and
  • limited data exports from advanced search from more than 200 fields to only 12 fields.

The "data download" page on now has fewer advanced search options, and historical data on inactive transactions once available through "archive" and "delta" files are no longer available on the site."

Ginger McCall

Apr 3, 2015, 11:31:31 AM4/3/15
to Alexander Howard, Zarek, Corinna,,
The removal of keyword search is particularly bad. Also,  while you can download the contact data,  it is only the barest portion of it and lacking a lot of useful information. It is now impossible to link to a particular contact. And this change has broken old links. 

Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE smartphone

Zarek, Corinna

Apr 8, 2015, 2:30:28 PM4/8/15
to Ginger McCall, Alexander Howard,,

Hi everyone!


Thank you for your helpful feedback on the newly re-launched and my apologies in the delay in circling back.


The USAspending team has been working to improve the usability of the site and has made some great strides to make it easier for average citizens to navigate information. But at the same time, we all understand that some of our expert users (like a lot of you) seek more technical information and the team is striving to meet your needs as well.


This is definitely a work in progress so please keep working with the team as it iterates on the best ways to improve function of the site while maintaining the content you seek. Your initial comments have been really helpful and the USAspending team is already working to address some of them.


Specifically, this week the team addressed data export issues to allow the ability to specify date ranges to download data, added the bulk file format API, and modified the download capability so larger datasets can be downloaded. Additionally, data archives are being added continually. This week, they loaded the 2014 and 2015 delta files that show the new transactions in the last month. You can keep track of the ongoing improvements on the “What’s new” page.


Please keep sharing your feedback and continue working with the USAspending team as it makes improvements to the site. You can do this through the site’s contact page or on the new Github page where you can report issues and track them in the open.

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