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What are the biggest federal programs?

The three biggest federal programs are health care (including Medicare and Medicaid), pensions (including Social Security), and Defense.

US Federal Budget Analyst

FY17 Federal Budget Spending Estimates
for Fiscal Years 2016 - 2021

2016   2017   2018   2019   2020   2021  

US Budget Year: By default, the table displays budgeted and estimated numbers from the most recent US Federal Budget submitted to the Congress by the president. But you can look at numbers from other US Federal Budgets using this dropdown control.
US Budget Year: By default, the table displays budgeted and estimated numbers from the most recent US Federal Budget submitted to the Congress by the president. But you can look at numbers from other US Federal Budgets using this dropdown control.
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US Federal Government FY 17 Budget
Estimated Outlays in $ billion nominal
-5yr -1yr   as of Winter 2016  
Estimated Outlays from US Federal FY 17 Budget
View: people old default radical census programs altprog oldprog COFOG
FY 2016
FY 2017
FY 2018
FY 2019
FY 2020
FY 2021
[–]  Pensions:  Start chart990.21,028.01,084.81,155.51,225.31,294.4
[–]  Sickness and disability0.
[–]  Old age990.21,028.01,084.81,155.51,225.31,294.4
[+] Federal employee retirement and disability (602)145.2143.7143.0152.3157.3161.8
[+] Social security (651)929.4972.61,031.11,095.31,162.51,229.3
[+] Employer share, employee retirement (on-budget) (951)-67.5-70.9-71.3-73.2-74.9-76.4
[+] Employer share, employee retirement (off-budget) (952)-16.9-17.3-18.0-18.8-19.5-20.3
[–]  Health Care:  Start chart1,121.21,172.51,217.41,313.01,376.51,457.1
[–]  Medical service (Seniors)595.3605.0607.9663.4702.9751.1
[+] Medicare (571)595.3605.0607.9663.4702.9751.1
[–]  Medical service0.
[–]  Public health services4.
[+] Consumer and occupational health and safety (554)
[–]  R and D Health32.835.436.837.236.437.0
[+] Health research and training (552)32.835.436.837.236.437.0
[–]  Health n.e.c.
[–]  Vendor Payments (Welfare)488.5527.4567.5607.4632.0663.7
[+] Health care services (551)488.5527.4567.5607.4632.0663.7
[–]  Education:  Start chart126.2120.5133.2141.8149.0154.0
[–]  Pre primary thru secondary education41.840.442.845.648.550.1
[+] Elementary, secondary, and vocational education (501)41.840.442.845.648.550.1
[–]  Tertiary education38.829.638.744.848.351.4
[+] Higher education (502)38.829.638.744.848.351.4
[–]  Education not definable by level45.550.651.851.352.252.5
[+] General science and basic research (251)12.212.913.613.914.114.5
[+] Research and general education aids (503)
[+] Training and employment (504)7.611.511.19.810.09.4
[+] Other labor services (505)
[+] Social services (506)20.120.421.221.521.922.2
[–]  Subsidiary services to education0.
[–]  R and D Education0.
[–]  Education n.e.c.
Charts: Click on a to display a bar of data in a row or column of this table.
Click on to display a time-series chart of data in a row.
[+] Drill-down: Click on the [+] to drill down to more detailed numbers. For federal spending line items (but not revenue) you can drill down three levels to view about 4,000 items of spending at the “agency code” level.
Defense:  Start chart829.1853.6835.0847.0859.4873.4
[–]  Military defense604.5617.0599.0600.2606.0612.4
[+] Department of Defense -- Military (051)576.3586.8568.6569.9575.3582.0
[+] Atomic energy defense activities (053)19.221.320.921.021.320.9
[+] Defense-related activities (054)
[–]  Civil defense0.
[–]  Veterans178.2180.8179.3192.2200.4208.6
[+] Income security for veterans (701)87.786.184.897.0102.9108.9
[+] Veterans education, training, and rehabilitation (702)14.915.115.316.517.318.1
[+] Hospital and medical care for veterans (703)67.770.670.569.771.072.4
[+] Veterans housing (704)
[+] Other veterans benefits and services (705)
[–]  Foreign military aid13.214.912.910.99.69.3
[+] International security assistance (152)13.214.912.910.99.69.3
[–]  Foreign economic aid33.340.943.843.643.543.0
[+] International development and humanitarian assistance (151)25.625.826.828.329.630.3
[+] Conduct of foreign affairs (153)14.313.513.
[+] Foreign information and exchange activities (154)
[+] International financial programs (155)-8.4-
[–]  R and D Defence0.
[–]  Defence n.e.c.
[–]  Welfare:  Start chart383.0392.1402.5415.3422.9431.0
[+]  Family and children291.5296.6304.9317.3322.1327.9
[+]  Unemployment36.039.041.942.244.646.3
[+]  Unemployment trust0.
[–]  Workers compensation5.
[+] General retirement and disability insurance (excluding social security (Disc. 2005) (601)
[–]  Housing49.751.250.551.050.751.1
[+] Housing assistance (604)49.751.250.551.050.751.1
[–]  Social exclusion n.e.c.
[–]  R and D Social protection0.
[–]  Social protection n.e.c.
[–]  Protection:  Start chart64.463.963.261.962.963.9
[–]  Police services30.733.432.632.533.033.5
[+] Federal law enforcement activities (751)30.733.432.632.533.033.5
[–]  Fire protection services0.
[–]  Law courts26.723.023.021.822.122.5
[+] Federal litigative and judicial activities (752)17.017.417.816.516.717.0
[+] Criminal justice assistance (754)
[–]  Prisons7.
[+] Federal correctional activities (753)
[–]  R and D Public order and safety0.
[–]  Public order and safety n.e.c.
[–]  Transportation:  Start chart92.4100.2108.1115.6123.6129.8
[–]  Transport92.4100.2108.1115.6123.6129.8
[+] Ground transportation (401)60.368.176.684.191.797.7
[+] Air transportation (402)20.621.020.520.520.720.6
[+] Water transportation (403)10.910.510.410.610.710.9
[+] Other transportation (407)
[+]  Transit0.
[–]  General Government:  Start chart25.730.629.832.133.735.8
[–]  Executive and legislative organs, financ16.819.919.420.020.621.2
[+] Legislative functions (801)
[+] Executive direction and management (802)
[+] Central fiscal operations (803)12.214.713.413.914.615.2
[+] General property and records management (804)-
[+] Central personnel management (805)
[–]  General services8.910.610.412.113.114.6
[+] General purpose fiscal assistance (806)
[+] Other general government (808)
[–]  Other Spending:  Start chart79.283.193.7102.6103.6110.8
[–]  Basic research18.618.618.318.418.719.0
[+] Space flight, research, and supporting activities (252)18.618.618.318.418.719.0
[–]  General economic, commercial and labour -6.9-10.1-9.2-6.0-4.42.6
[+] Deposit insurance (373)-6.9-10.1-9.2-6.0-4.42.6
[–]  Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunti33.533.933.529.328.032.0
[+] Other natural resources (306)
[+] Farm income stabilization (351)19.420.420.115.514.117.7
[+] Agricultural research and services (352)
[–]  Fuel and energy3.
[+] Energy supply (271)
[+] Energy conservation (272)
[+] Emergency energy preparedness (274)
[+] Energy information, policy, and regulation (276)
[+] Rents and royalties on the Outer Continental Shelf (953)-3.8-4.5-5.1-5.9-6.2-6.4
[–]  Mining, manufacturing and construction0.
[–]  Communication1.0-1.5-2.5-4.1-3.6-4.0
[+] Postal Service (372)1.0-1.5-2.5-4.1-3.6-4.0
[–]  Other industries0.
[–]  R and D Economic affairs0.
[–]  Economic affairs n.e.c.
[+] Other advancement of commerce (376)16.922.923.523.826.720.8
[+] Sale of major assets (954)
[+] Other undistributed offsetting receipts (959)-12.9-15.7-8.1-0.6-1.1-1.0
[+]  Waste management0.
[+]  Waste water management0.
[+]  Pollution abatement8.
[+]  Protection of biodiversity and landscape13.914.615.515.015.315.5
[+]  R and D Environmental protection0.
[+]  Environmental protection n.e.c.
[+]  Housing development-37.7-33.8-33.7-32.6-33.1-32.6
[+]  Community development27.921.118.918.116.014.4
[+]  Water supply8.
[+]  Street lighting0.
[+]  R and D Housing and community amenities0.
[+]  Housing and community amenities n.e.c.
[–]  Recreational and sporting services3.
[+] Recreational resources (303)
[+]  Cultural services0.
[+]  Broadcasting and publishing services0.
[+]  Religious and other community services0.
[+]  R and D Recreation, culture and religion0.
[+]  Recreation, culture and religion n.e.c.
[+]  R and D General public services0.
[+]  General public services n.e.c.
[+]  Transfers of a general character between0.
[–]  Interest:  Start chart240.0302.7384.6459.5523.0574.2
[–]  Public debt transactions240.0302.7384.6459.5523.0574.2
[+] Interest on Treasury debt securities (gross) (901)447.3511.7576.8662.1731.6793.8
[+] Interest received by on-budget trust funds (902)-60.8-59.0-56.1-61.7-66.1-73.3
[+] Interest received by off-budget trust funds (903)-90.7-88.3-85.7-86.3-82.8-80.6
[+] Other interest (908)-54.2-60.8-49.5-53.7-58.7-64.8
[+] Other investment income (909)-1.6-0.8-0.9-0.9-0.9-0.9
[+]  Balance0.
[+]  Total Spending3,951.34,147.24,352.24,644.34,879.85,124.3
[+]  Federal Deficit615.8503.5453.6549.3534.1552.3
[+]  Gross Public Debt19,433.320,149.420,884.321,695.522,446.723,198.6
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b - budgeted estimate in US FY17 budget
e - estimated by

Data Sources for 2016:
Federal: Fed. Budget: Hist. Tables 3.2, 5.1, 7.1

Data Sources for 2021:
Federal: Fed. Budget: Hist. Tables 3.2, 5.1, 7.1

The table shows overall budgeted federal outlays for major functions for the next five years, as estimated in the historical tables in the current presidential budget.

You can change the budget to be analyzed or drill down to view more detailed spending information.

But. For the “default” and “programs” views, we have extracted data from the Public Budget Database to expand Social Security and Medicare beyond the single line item each gets in Table 3.2. The Public Budget Database starts publishing six years of estimated outlays with the FY10 budget, so this page will only provide a full six years of estimated outlays starting with the FY10 budget.


Data Sources: Federal spending from Budget of the United States Government.

For a discussion of the sources of the government spending data used here read How We Got the Data for

Budget Updates: The president’s budget is typically published each year in February.

Download Federal Budget Data for 2016-2021

You can download budget data as a CSV file or directly as a tab-delimited table.

Download Data as CSV File

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Tab-delimited Table

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Top Spending Requests:

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US BUDGET overview and pie chart.


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Spending Data Sources

Spending data is from official government sources.

Gross Domestic Product data comes from US Bureau of Economic Analysis and

Detailed table of spending data sources here.

Federal spending data begins in 1792.

State and local spending data begins in 1890.

State and local spending data for individual states begins in 1957.

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Next Data Update

> Federal Deficit FY15

> data update schedule.

Data Sources for 2016_2021:

Sources for 2016:

GDP, GO: GDP, GO Sources
Federal: Fed. Budget: Hist. Tables 3.2, 5.1, 7.1
State and Local: State and Local Gov. Finances
'Guesstimated' by projecting the latest change in reported spending forward to future years

Sources for 2021:

GDP, GO: GDP, GO Sources
Federal: Fed. Budget: Hist. Tables 3.2, 5.1, 7.1
State and Local: State and Local Gov. Finances
'Guesstimated' by projecting the latest change in reported spending forward to future years

> data sources for other years
> data update schedule.

Federal Deficit and Outlay Actuals for FY16

On October 14, 2016, the US Treasury reported in its Monthly Treasury Statement (and xls) for September that the federal deficit for FY 2016 ending September 30 was $587 billion. Here are the numbers, including total receipts, total outlays, and deficit compared with the numbers projected in the FY 2017 federal budget published in February 2016:

Federal Finances
FY 2016 Outcomes
Receipts $3,336$3,267
Deficit$616$587 now shows the new numbers for total FY 2016 outlays and receipts on its Estimate vs. Actual page.

The Monthly Treasury Statement includes ""Table 4: Receipts of the United States Government, September 2015 and Other Periods." This table of receipts by source is used for to post federal receipt actuals for FY 2016.

The Monthly Treasury Statement includes "Table 9. Summary of Receipts by Source, and Outlays by Function of the U.S. Government, September 2016 and Other Periods".   This table of outlays by function makes it possible for to estimate actual outlays by "subfunction" for FY 2016 by factoring budgeted amounts by the difference between budgeted and actual "function" amounts where actual outlays by subfunction cannot be gleaned from the Monthly Treasury Statement.

Final detailed FY 2016 numbers will not appear on until the FY 2018 federal budget is published in February 2017 with the actual outlays for FY 2016 in Historical Table 3.2--Outlays by Function and Subfunction.

Budget News

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