In government today, there is no shortage of financial transparency and reports. In fact, there are so many reports, data sheets, sources of regular information and updating, the ongoing task keeps various people busy with fulltime jobs producing all the related information and documents. However, despite thousands of pages of research being readily available, it doesn’t necessarily mean the data and reports can be easily understood. In fact, one of the chief complaints about modern government finance today is that the environment is too confusing for the average person to understand.
Learn the Language
Regardless of what level of U.S. government is being written about, the finances involved always start with the authorization from a representative body. This is typically known as the governmental budget and appropriation. The budget provides the plan and details of how the money will be spent if everyone agrees on the approach. The appropriation is the actual authorization via Congress or a legislature and a President or governor to allow the given amount of money to be spent in a certain way. These pieces of information are always included in the government’s budget act or enacted law. By knowing where to start, expert writers and researchers can find the beginning pieces for how a given program is funded.
While a department or agency has one budget, it often includes multiple programs or subdivisions, each on spending a certain amount of money on specific tasks and activities every year. For example, the Internal Revenue Service has an overall agency budget approved by Congress, but that figure is then split into a processing component, audits, criminal investigations, legal resources, and tax policy development among others.
Once the agency program or division budget is identified, there are additional reports that can break down the funding detail further. Budget legislation only looks at funding details at the macro level. The government budget book is the place to find the agency detail deconstructed into various elements. However, even this point is limited. For example, it won’t tell a company how much the government is interested in contracting for new software. The budget plan only details increases and decreases in specific programs. So to go further, a researcher then needs to look to program reports to see where the government is planning to act.
The Final Steps
A variety of reports also exist and have to be published annually under various government regulations. These include projection reports for contracting, grant funding, distribution of funds to lower levels of government, strategic planning on a five-year basis, and procurement. These reports provide the nuts and bolts detail of specific tasks and activities. Combined with the larger budgetary documents, a researcher can then find and conclude which government programs are expected to increase or decrease financially. This allows writers to provide pin-pointed commentary of where politics and government will be putting taxpayer money next. For expert writers who know where to find them, these reports are the gold that helps provide the basis for good government finance content when finished.
Tom L is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.