Sunlight Foundation: 'Back to the Source': Federal Cash Flow to Nonexistent Districts

In 2009 the Washington Times reported that an investigation conducted by researchers at the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity had found 440 nonexistent districts listed on Combined, the districts were marked as receiving $6.4 billion and creating almost 30,000 jobs. The article provides specific examples, such as the following:

  • “ shows 12 districts, using up more than $2.7 billion, in Washington, D.C, which only has one congressional district.”
  • “ also shows 2,893.9 jobs created with $194,537,372 in stimulus funding in New Hampshire’s 00 congressional district. But, there is no such thing.”
  • “The site also shows $1,471,518 going to New Hampshire’s 6th congressional district, $1,033,809 to the 4th congressional district and $124,774 to the 27th congressional district. In fact, New Hampshire only has two congressional districts; inviting confusion about where the money listed for the 00, 4th, 6th and 27th districts is going.”
The Franklin Center’s full data delves even deeper into discrepancies on While this article certainly illustrates that is far from a perfect resource, it is an article that would not have been possible without access to the data offered on the website. provides us – the public – with the ability to conduct our own investigations into how the government is spending taxpayer dollars and to uncover discrepancies such as the ones identified in the Washington Times article.

‘Back to the Source’ takes a news article that makes good use of data and investigative techniques and tries to determine whether the underlying data that made the piece possible is publicly available. If you’d like to know where the data behind a particular piece can be found, please feel free to send us an email at[email protected].

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