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About Official Expenses

Official expenses FAQ

LegiStorm makes the detailed official expenditures of the House and Senate full-text searchable from Oct. 1, 2000.

In addition, LegiStorm provides a more powerful service for the House which allows users to show member spending versus budgeted amounts and make comparisons between members.

House data comes from the "Statement of Disbursements of the House" books that are published by the Clerk of the House each quarter. Senate data comes from the equivalent books known as the "Report of the Secretary of the Senate." These disclosures deal with taxpayer funds for official purposes, not election campaign accounts, legal defense funds or other accounts.

When LegiStorm first began extracting data from these House and Senate books in 2006, they were not available online. LegiStorm transcribed only salary data from the books and made the data available in a relational database format that made it fully searchable and sortable.

Later, LegiStorm used scanned versions of the House and Senate books to perform Optical Character Recognition on the data and to render the entire books - including not just salaries but all expenditures - searchable. As a result users, can search all expenditures from Oct. 1, 2000 forward.

In September 2016, LegiStorm released a more powerful way to analyze House expenditures from 2010 to the present. The new functionality allows users to see member spending versus budgeted amounts. It allows users to sort by which members spend the most of their Members' Representational Allowances - their official budgeted amounts. It also shows spending by category and allows comparisons between members.

The expanded House analysis capability relies on digital versions of the House books that were not available when LegiStorm first launched. 2010 is the first full year that the House has made available in digital form. LegiStorm similarly hopes to allow full analysis of Senate expenditures at some point.

Our expense search interface allows users to filter by year and category of expenditure. We have omitted mention of a few categories that have almost no expenses or seem to appear in error. When reporting data for multiple years, the percent of budget spent and percent reported late reflect an average of these values across the indicated years.

House expenses are often reported late, even years late. That can make tracking recent expense totals tricky. For each office, we display  what percentage of expenditures are reported in a year subsequent to the one that they truly belong to. In cases where reimbursements result in a negative subtotal for a subsequent reporting period, we display a value of zero percent but the negative amount is counted in the expense total.