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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

FY13 Federal Budget Spending Estimates
for Fiscal Years 2012 - 2017

2012   2013   2014   2015   2016   2017  

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 13 Budget
Estimated Outlays in $ billion nominal
-5yr -1yr   as of Winter 2012   +1yr +5yr
Estimated Outlays from US Federal FY 13 Budget
View: people old default radical census programs altprog oldprog COFOG
FY 2012
FY 2013
FY 2014
FY 2015
FY 2016
FY 2017
[+]  Pensions819.7878.5925.7978.81,037.31,092.0
[–]  Health Care:  Start chart846.1916.11,038.61,116.51,214.81,254.8
[+]  Medical service (Seniors)484.5530.2558.3576.7626.4641.3
[+]  Medical service0.
[+]  Public health services4.
[–]  R and D Health33.
[–]  (552)
— Health Resources and Services0.
— Health Resources and Services0.
— CDC-Wide Activities and Program Support-0.0-0.2-0.2-0.1-0.1-0.2
— CDC-Wide Activities and Program Support0.
— CDC-Wide Activities and Program Support0.
— National Institutes of Health31.430.332.631.531.932.5
— National Institutes of Health0.
— Healthcare Research and Quality0.
— Transfers from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund-0.0-0.1-0.1-0.0-0.0-0.0
— Payment to the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund0.
— Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund0.
— Payment from the General Fund, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund-0.2-0.2-0.2-0.2-0.2-0.2
— Transfers from FHI Trust Fund, PCORTF0.0-0.0-0.1-0.1-0.1-0.1
— Transfers from FSMI Trust Fund, PCORTF0.0-0.0-0.1-0.1-0.1-0.1
[+]  Health n.e.c.
[+]  Vendor Payments (Welfare)323.9349.1441.6502.4550.7575.0
[+]  Education153.1136.1121.2120.5117.4120.2
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 chart902.2901.4799.8777.7794.5808.3
[–]  Military defense716.3701.8599.3572.5578.3589.5
[+]  (051)688.3672.9571.9545.3551.1561.8
[+]  (053)19.820.719.
[+]  (054)
[+]  Civil defense0.
[+]  Veterans129.6140.1146.8153.6165.8168.4
[+]  Foreign military aid12.514.113.612.612.312.3
[+]  Foreign economic aid43.845.440.
[+]  R and D Defence0.
[+]  Defence n.e.c.
[+]  Welfare451.9422.3402.6397.3399.3394.5
[+]  Protection62.062.857.356.658.958.3
[+]  Transportation102.6114.2107.7106.2109.1112.6
[+]  General Government33.628.
[–]  Other Spending:  Start chart199.696.292.987.083.892.6
[+]  Basic research17.117.317.617.818.118.5
[+]  General economic, commercial and labour 26.9-16.6-11.9-10.5-14.5-19.6
[+]  Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunti26.132.825.927.827.727.6
[+]  Fuel and energy15.
[+]  Mining, manufacturing and construction0.
[+]  Communication-5.8-5.4-5.0-5.1-5.3-1.7
[+]  Other industries0.
[+]  R and D Economic affairs0.
[+]  Economic affairs n.e.c.37.812.
[+]  Waste management0.
[+]  Waste water management0.
[+]  Pollution abatement9.
[+]  Protection of biodiversity and landscape11.911.711.811.812.112.7
[+]  R and D Environmental protection0.
[+]  Environmental protection n.e.c.
[+]  Housing development16.2-19.9-26.9-29.5-26.2-23.3
[+]  Community development31.735.028.319.114.614.2
[+]  Water supply10.
[+]  Street lighting0.
[+]  R and D Housing and community amenities0.
[+]  Housing and community amenities n.e.c.
[+]  Recreational and sporting services3.
[+]  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.-1.7-0.218.427.629.830.9
[+]  Transfers of a general character between0.
[+]  Interest224.8247.7309.1390.4482.8565.5
[+]  Balance0.
[+]  Total Spending3,795.63,803.43,883.14,059.94,328.84,531.7
[+]  Federal Deficit1,327.0901.4667.8609.7648.8612.4
[+]  Gross Public Debt16,350.917,547.918,499.919,426.520,391.221,325.5
Pie Chart: Select a pie chart you wish to display. You can create a pie chart for federal, state and local, and overall spending/revenue.

b - budgeted estimate in US FY13 budget
e - estimated by

Data Sources for 2012:
Federal: Fed. Budget: Hist. Tables 3.2, 5.1, 7.1

Data Sources for 2017:
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 2012-2017

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

Download Data as CSV File

 Click button to download CSV file of data in table

Tab-delimited Table

Here is the budget table with columns tab-delimited. You can cut and paste directly into a spreadsheet:

You can copy all the text in the textbox by clicking your cursor in the box. Then press Ctrl-A and Ctrl-C and paste the text into your spreadsheet.

Top Spending Requests:

Find DEFICIT stats and history.

Get WELFARE stats and history.

US BUDGET overview and pie chart.


DOWNLOAD spending data or debt data.

See FEDERAL BUDGET breakdown and estimated vs. actual.

MILITARY SPENDING details, budget and history.


See BAR CHARTS of spending, debt.

Check STATE spending: CA NY TX FL and compare.



Take a COURSE at Spending 101.

Make your own CUSTOM CHART.

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 Budget FY18

> data update schedule.

Data Sources for 2012_2017:

Sources for 2012:

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 2017:

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.

FY18 Budget Blueprint Released

On March 16, 2018 the Trump administration issued a Budget Blueprint outlining proposed changes to "discretionary" spending for Fiscal Year 2018. The following table shows the major changes to Budget Authority in excess of $2 billion per agency.

AgencyFY18 Change
in $ billion
Health and
Human Services
State and Intl Aid-10.9

Because usgovernmentspending spending data is based on Historical Table 3.2, it shows spending by function rather than by agency. Until Table 3.2 is published in the final version of the FY18 budget we cannot exactly predict how the Table 3.2 numbers will change at the subfunction level.

But we have applied the Budget Blueprint budget authority changes into the budgeted FY18 outlays by guessing the application of agency level changes to subfunction changes to give a rough feeling of what the Trump changes look like. You can check out what is going on here or here.

The numbers will change when the final FY18 federal budget numbers come out.

Spend links

us numbersus budgetcustom chartdeficit/gdpspend/gdpdebt/gdpus gdpus real gdpstate gdpbreakdownfederalstatelocal201520162017californiatexas

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Christopher Chantrill.

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