March 2011

Introduction

Each quarter, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts gathers more than 1 million pieces of information in order to comply with the requirements of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and provide enhanced transparency for the public directed by Governor Deval Patrick. The Follow the Dollars and Track the Jobs pages provide information in a summarized fashion so you can understand where stimulus funds are being spent and what projects they are funding. The federal government's requirements are mirrored in our reports. The terms we use on our website, which were primarily developed for federal reporting purposes, can be confusing. We are therefore posting this guide to help you better understand the language used throughout the site.

Organization of ARRA Award Information

ARRA funds from the federal government are mainly provided as grants, which the federal government calls Awards. Each Award is assigned an award number.

At the Massachusetts Recovery and Reinvestment Office, we report to the federal government and to the public on all ARRA funding that is received by state agencies. The state agencies are the Recipients of these awards.

To make the information easier to manipulate and understand, we have assigned each Award to one of nine Funding Categories, covering topics as diverse as Education, Clean Energy, and Transportation.

Depending on the nature of the Award, a state agency may issue Sub-Awards to Sub-Recipients to help implement the terms of the project. Sub-Recipients can be cities, towns, non-profit agencies and others.

In order to do the actual work, those Sub-Recipients may in turn contract with Sub-Vendors to provide goods or services, and are required to report on their activities. On some Awards, the state agency contracts directly with Vendors to provide goods or services.

This Award information is being provided only for those federal ARRA funds being received and administered through state agencies. The federal government also provides other Awards that go directly to cites and towns, hospitals, universities, private companies and others. Information on ARRA-funded Awards that do not go through state agencies can be found on the federal website, Recovery.Gov.

How do I navigate Follow the Dollars and Track the Jobs pages?

Each page displays a Map and a Report next to the Map. You can navigate the website in a few different ways:

  • Use your cursor to select an area on the map to look at. Then just click on it. You'll see that the information on the page will change for your selection.
  • You can also select an area or location from the drop down boxes above the map, or enter your zip code.
  • Then click on the area of the charts that you want to know more about. As you keep clicking, you will get more and more detailed information.
  • Use the main tabs near the top of the page to return to the original display of statewide data.

How can I see how much a particular vendor has been paid?

Go to the View the Vendors tab. This page is organized by Vendor rather than by Award. Either browse through the list of vendors, limit the list to a certain first letter, or search by a word. Once you've found a vendor to review further, select them from the list to review the list of awards they've been paid under, and see further payment details.

What time period does this information cover?

You can currently see information for the following quarters. Switch between quarters using the drop-down above the map.

  • 2009 Q3 - February 17 to September 30, 2009
  • 2009 Q4 - October 1 to December 31, 2009
  • 2010 Q1 - January 1 to March 31, 2010
  • 2010 Q2 - April 1 to June 30, 2010
  • 2010 Q3 - July 1 to September 30, 2010
  • 2010 Q4 - October 1 to December 31, 2010
  • Current - current spending data from the state accounting system

How can I identify ARRA funds and projects in my town?

You can either select your town from the drop-down menu above the map, or click on your county on the map and then click on your town.

What other features are available in the reports?

  • The map can display the data by county, congressional district, or City/Town. The drop down boxes above the map control this information.
  • The detail behind the information in the reports at the bottom of the pages can be exported into other formats such as Excel or PDF by selecting the Download All Data link and making selections from there.
  • Continue making selections in the drillable reports to reveal greater levels of detail about an award. Detail links provide further detail for the particular Award, Project, Vendor, Sub-Recipient or Sub-Vendor selected.

What do the terms under Follow the Dollars mean?

This page is provides ARRA Award financial information. As required by the federal government, spending is reported cumulatively from February 17, 2009 when ARRA was signed, through the end of the period selected.

Some key terms used on this page are:

  • Awarded = the amount of the award or sub-award assigned to the area.
  • Expended = the amount that has been spent since the beginning of the award.
  • Quarter Spending = the amount that was spent in the quarter selected for the report.

What do the terms under Track the Jobs mean?

This page focuses on the hours worked by individuals funded by ARRA for the particular quarter being reviewed. In order to understand how many full-time jobs all of these hours represent, the hours are converted into estimates for full-time equivalents (FTEs). An FTE represents one person working full time for that particular quarter. So if a person was hired during the quarter, say in the second month of the 3-month quarter, that would be 2/3 of an FTE. Someone who was working for all 3 months would be 1 FTE. FTE values cannot be added across quarters because that would result in double counting.

Massachusetts also collects information about the number of individuals paid, which is reflected as Headcount. So for example, if one person worked for 2 months during the quarter and another person worked for 1 month, that would be 1 FTE in total, but the headcount would be 2 people, since 2 people actually received an ARRA-funded paycheck during that quarter.

There is also a Cumulative Headcount field which captures the total number of individuals who have received a stimulus-funded paycheck up through that reporting period.

All job information is displayed as being either Created or Retained. For the sake of simplicity, we have defined a Retained employee as an individual who was on payroll at the start of ARRA (February 17, 2009) and is now being paid from ARRA funds; whereas a Created employee is one who has been hired since the start of ARRA, and remains classified as created throughout the life of the grant. Created and retained detail can be reviewed via the Download Data link below the charts.

How do I provide feedback and comment on the projects and reports?

We are doing our best to not only provide complete and full information but to do it in a way that understandable and usable by as many people as possible. Please let us know how you like the information provided, and what additional features would enhance your experience. An Email Us link can be found at the top of each page, and is actively monitored. We hope that you will use this to tell us what you think.