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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  

Units: By default, values are displayed in billions of nominal dollars. By using a dropdown control in the table heading you can select millions of dollars, percent of GDP, percent of federal total, percent of overall total, dollars per capita of population, and thousand dollars per capita of population.
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.
full screen
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 functions radical census programs altprog oldprog COFOG
Change Data View: The default view of spending data is by function. But you can also view data by program or the UN COFOG classification system.
FY 2012
FY 2013
FY 2014
FY 2015
FY 2016
FY 2017
[+]  Pensions819.7878.5925.7978.81,037.31,092.0
[+]  Health Care846.1916.11,038.61,116.51,214.81,254.8
[–]  Education:  Start chart153.1136.1121.2120.5117.4120.2
[–]  Pre primary thru secondary education87.859.949.944.941.641.6
[–] Elementary, secondary, and vocational education (501)87.859.949.944.941.641.6
— Operation of Indian Programs0.
— Operation of Indian Programs0.
— Payment to Issuer of Qualified School Construction Bonds0.
— Education Jobs Fund3.
— Indian Student Education0.
— Impact Aid1.
— Supporting Student Success0.
— Accelerating Achievement and Ensuring Equity0.
— Accelerating Achievement and Ensuring Equity20.115.415.615.615.715.8
— Education Improvement Programs0.
— Education Improvement Programs4.
— State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, Recovery Act5.
— Innovation and Instructional Teams0.
— Innovation and Instructional Teams1.
— English Learner Education0.
— Special Education0.
— Special Education14.312.512.512.512.612.6
— Career, Technical and Adult Education0.
— Career, Technical and Adult Education1.
— American Jobs Act30.519.
— Federal Payment for School Improvement0.
[–]  Tertiary education13.216.622.127.929.532.4
[–] Higher education (502)13.216.622.127.929.532.4
— Payment Where American Opportunity Credit Exceeds Liability for TAX6.
— Federal Family Education Loan Program, Negative Subsidies-0.7-
— Federal Family Education Loan Program, Downward Reestimates of Subsidies-
— Federal Direct Student Loan Program, Negative Subsidies-24.8-28.7-25.8-21.1-16.8-13.7
— Federal Direct Student Loan Program, Downward Reestimates of Subsidies-
— Federal Perkins Loan, Negative Subsidies0.0-0.6-1.8-1.4-1.1-0.9
— National Technical Institute for the Deaf0.
— Gallaudet University0.
— Race to the Top: College Affordability and Completion0.
— Higher Education1.
— Higher Education0.
— Higher Education0.
— Howard University0.
— Student Financial Assistance21.624.124.025.925.325.8
— Student Financial Assistance15.313.614.812.910.69.4
— Student Aid Administration0.
— Student Aid Administration0.
— Teacher Education Assistance0.
— Perkins Loan Assets0.
— Federal Family Education Loan Liquidating Account-0.4-0.3-0.3-0.2-0.2-0.2
— Federal Family Education Loan Program Account1.
— Federal Direct Student Loan Program Account6.
— Federal Student Loan Reserve Fund0.
[–]  Education not definable by level52.159.649.247.746.346.2
[+] General science and basic research (251)13.913.912.512.512.612.7
[+] Research and general education aids (503)
[+] Training and employment (504)13.421.412.
[+] Other labor services (505)
[+] Social services (506)19.118.718.919.019.219.5
[+]  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.
[+]  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 Spending199.696.292.987.083.892.6
[+]  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.

Suggested Video:

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 1820.

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

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Next Data Update

> State and Local Finances FY15

> 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

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.

Federal Deficit, Receipts, Outlays Actuals for FY18

On October 15, 2018, the US Treasury reported in its Monthly Treasury Statement (and xls) for September that the federal deficit for FY 2018 ending September 30, 2018, was $779 billion. Here are the numbers, including total receipts, total outlays, and deficit compared with the numbers projected in the FY 2019 federal budget published in February 2018:

Federal Finances
FY 2018 Outcomes
Receipts $3,340$3,329
Deficit$833$779 now shows the new numbers for total FY 2018 total outlays and receipts on its Estimate vs. Actual page.

The Monthly Treasury Statement includes "Table 4: Receipts of the United States Government, September 2018 and Other Periods." This table of receipts by source is used for to post details of federal receipt actuals for FY 2018.

This FTS report on FY 18 actuals is a problem for because this site uses Historical Table 3.2--Outlays by Function and Subfunction from the Budget of the United States as its basic source for federal subfunction outlays. But the Monthly Treasury Statement only includes "Table 9. Summary of Receipts by Source, and Outlays by Function of the U.S. Government, September 2018 and Other Periods". Subfunction amounts don't get reported until the FY20 budget in February 2019. Until then estimates actual outlays by "subfunction" for FY 2018 by factoring subfunction budgeted amounts for FY18 by the ratio between relevant actual and budgeted "function" amounts where actual outlays by subfunction cannot be gleaned from the Monthly Treasury Statement.

Final detailed FY 2018 actuals will not appear on until the FY 2020 federal budget is published in February 2019 with the actual outlays for FY 2018 in Historical Table 3.2--Outlays by Function and Subfunction.

Spend links

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