Tracking the Trackers: Where to Find Updates on the Biden Administration’s Economic Investments
October 10, 2023
By Sunny Malhotra
Since taking office, the Biden administration has deployed what could total to trillions of investments in infrastructure, health care, and industrial policy. The bulk of these investments have come from four bills: the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA),1 the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), and the CHIPS and Science Act (CHIPS).
Our past blog posts have looked at the wide range of geographies that could potentially be impacted by IRA investments, and the political makeup of these regions. However, this analysis just scratches the surface of the investments that could bring sustainable, well-paying, union jobs to thousands of local communities across America. At the end of this blog post, we have compiled a list of websites, blogs, and spreadsheets that are tracking the trillions of dollars in investments to provide a record of where the money is going and which communities are being impacted. We briefly cover the methodologies and descriptions of the sources, and break down trackers by which bill each tracks.
We also note whether they are being updated frequently or are fixed as of a certain date. It is difficult to imagine what trillions of dollars looks like, and it is even more difficult to track specific upgrades in our infrastructure and investments in our industries to a specific bill passed by Congress. Long gone are the days of metal plaques on art installations and parks, denoting, for example, that the work was made possible by the Works Progress Administration. But here, we attempt to draw concrete connections between which bill is being used to invest in which projects.
We break down the trackers by which piece of legislation funds the investment, and then add some additional sources from federal departments and environmental groups, as well as a table at the end of the document with a list of all the trackers we have compiled. The trackers vary in breadth of projects covered, depth of information by project, and how the information is categorized. Many of these sites track investments for multiple Biden administration bills; however, we have categorized them based on which bill they seem to be prioritizing.
American Rescue Plan Act
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was a $1.9 trillion relief package aimed at providing aid in response to the economic fallout of COVID-19. The US Treasury breaks down funding for ARPA program areas into assistance for families and workers; assistance for small businesses; assistance for state, local, and tribal governments; and assistance for American industry. Not all of these programs have tracking information available, but one that does is the $350 billion Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) program. Civilytics Consulting put together a list of four trackers that look at how states have spent this money. They have also put out an open request for additional trackers to add to their list.
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has extensive resources on how states can use their ARPA funding. It also has an ARPA State Fiscal Recovery Fund Allocations Database, which tracks the allocations by authority, region, and allocation category of the SLFRF. The NCSL provides helpful terminology definitions as well as its methodology for how the data was collected. The tracker does not provide many top lines or overarching statistics on funding, but goes through state, local, and categorical breakdowns in great detail. The database is still being added to and was last updated on July 28, 2023.
In early 2022, the National League of Cities (NLC), the National Association of Counties (NACo), and Brookings Metro put together the Local Government ARPA Investment Tracker to show how large cities and counties are deploying their funding. The tracker has counted over 11,000 projects from 331 local governments, tallying to over $48 billion in tracked funding. The NLC-NACo-Brookings tracker both maps out where the investments occurred and provides key statistics on how the money is being spent. This post from Brookings provides more information on the specifics of ARPA’s State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds and how localities are spending their money. This tracker is still being added to, and was last updated on August 16, 2023.
The Council of State Governments’ State ARPA Utilization Database provides two views of ARPA SLFRF funding distribution: One is utilization by state, and the other is utilization by funding category. The database is good for searching for specific projects of a certain policy area or region, but does not offer comprehensive overviews of funding that the previous two trackers provide. Furthermore, the Council of State Governments has stated that it has stopped adding to the database, and instead publishes updates in report form. However, while the previous two trackers primarily track funding of the State and Local Recovery Funds, the Council of States Governments has also published reports on the other programs funded by ARPA, such as those that support workforce development, education, and infrastructure.
Results for America’s American Rescue Plan Data and Evidence Dashboard analyzed 200 SLFRF plan reports for trends, investment areas, effectiveness, and notable projects. The database is not updated with information on new projects or funding opportunities. However, the database has scored the state, county, and city recovery plan report on five key metrics: Evidence-Based, Impact Evaluation, Enhance Data and Evidence Capacity, Community Engagement, and Ensuring Equitable Outcomes. Each of these key metrics are scored on a scale of 0 to 2, with a report’s maximum score being 10/10. Only 7 of the 200 reports scored 10/10. The database also identifies 110 notable projects in the reports and categorizes them by investment area, government level, and key practice.
The Southern Equity Advancement Project’s ARPA spending tracker has projects funded by SLFRF through March 31, 2023. The tracker provides breakdowns of larger projects (population >250,000 or >$10 million) and smaller projects (population of <250,000). Spending can be filtered by category and state. Unlike the other trackers, this one provides a dollar amount of the funds remaining as well as the project status as of March 31, 2023. Other resources are available from the Southern Equity Advancement Project, such as funding opportunities for states and local governments and a federal grant finder. It is unclear whether the tracker will be updated in the future.
The American Rescue Plan Act provided $10 billion to the Treasury Department’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). The SSBCI offers small businesses and historically disadvantaged entrepreneurs vital capital and technical assistance. The program is based on building public-private partnerships that brings in $10 of private funding for every $1 of SSBCI funding. The SSBCI program also recently added another $125 million specifically to support women business owners and business owners of color. A full list of programs currently being funded can be found here.
Local governments also release their own spending trackers. One such example is set up by Athens-Clarke County in Georgia, which has visualized how and where it is spending the $57.6 million it received. The tracker provides information on how much of the $57.6 million has been spent, when it was spent (by month), and on what types of projects it has been spent. The county also has links to reports that share status updates and outcomes of key projects that have used ARPA funding.
Another local tracker from the State University of New York’s Rockefeller Institute of Government gives an overview of ARPA funding, with a particular focus on projects in the state of New York. The tracker has maps of funding by city and county. A key breakdown that this tracker provides is funding per capita by US state, county (New York only), and city (New York only).
Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
The White House released its own investment tracker categorizing funding into two large buckets: public infrastructure and private investments. The tracker maps specific projects funded by the government and allows a state-level view of the private investments by industry and public infrastructure commitments. A fact sheet with maps from the White House Briefing Room states that the $220 billion in public infrastructure spending comes from the IIJA/BIL but does not specify which bill backs the private-sector commitments. The tracker is linked on the White House’s Maps of Progress page, as well as its IIJA/BIL homepage. The map is updated continually, and was last updated September 7, 2023. A second map provided by the White House that tracks much of the same information as the first but that focuses specifically on the IIJA/BIL can be found here.
The Nowak Metro Finance Lab at Drexel University frequently updates a newsletter that gives information about opportunities made available primarily by the IIJA. The grants advertised are primarily for infrastructure opportunities. The Infrastructure Funding Tracker does not include a map of investments, but instead is targeted toward those looking to obtain government grants from the IIJA, IRA, and CHIPS. The tracker is aimed at helping “cities, states, counties, nonprofits, foundations, and other entities with an interest in ensuring their locality receives and deploys its funding most effectively.” The Nowak Metro Finance Lab’s newsletter and email subscription are updated frequently and rapidly; funding opportunities are posted between 24 and 72 hours after opening. While the site states explicitly that the opportunities are drawn from the IIJA, IRA, and CHIPS, it is unclear whether opportunities funded through ARPA are also included.
Three additional trackers we found are from Clearpath, Climate Action Campaign, and the American Society of Civil Engineers. All three map infrastructure investment projects funded by the IIJA, and all have different categorizations of what the investment falls under. Clearpath’s tracker categorizes investments by clean energy technology being funded. It also provides a list of the latest investment announcements on its dashboard. Clearpath frequently adds to its tracker and last updated it on September 22, 2023. Climate Action Campaign’s tracker categorizes investments by industry as opposed to technology. For example, the Climate Action Campaign’s tracker categorizes whether a project funds clean energy or transportation as opposed to critical minerals or storage. Climate Action Campaign’s map is updated weekly. Unlike the previous two, the American Society of Civil Engineers’ tracker does not seem to be updated frequently. Instead, the ASCE map offers in-depth looks at a handful of infrastructure projects and compares them to the state’s infrastructure report card. The tracker provides interviews from the mayors of the towns being highlighted, but does not offer as wide of an array of projects as the previous two sites.
CHIPS and Science Act
The CHIPS and Science Act invests billions in domestic semiconductor manufacturing and research. Due to its more narrow scope, there are fewer groups keeping track of the investments. First, the Commerce Department maintains a chips webpage at chips.gov, which will presumably be updated with data as awards are announced; however, at this time there is only information for those interested in obtaining the federal loans. Unsurprisingly, the Semiconductor Industry Association has mapped out locations central to the semiconductor supply chain and tracks recent expansions and new facilities. This ecosystem map does not draw causal references to CHIPS as some other trackers do for other bills but, accompanied by the Association’s report, paints a picture of the bill’s impacts. Another tracker from GMF Digital maps investments in semiconductor facilities in the US and Europe. The map is added to frequently and was last updated on October 9, 2023.
Inflation Reduction Act
Much like ARPA, the Inflation Reduction Act invests in a broad range of projects and industries. Government agencies and a few environmental and policy organizations have created databases and maps to highlight where the IRA’s money is going. Given its closeness in goals to the IIJA, some trackers lump them together and track both without differentiating which bill funded which project. For example, the Department of Transportation has compiled a list of funding opportunities made available by both projects. Furthermore, as part of a blog series, the Center for American Progress allows users to search its database for projects and infrastructure funding opportunities by region. The New York Times recently featured a story that drew on information from Rhodium Group, a consulting firm that is tracking decarbonization technology in the United States. Finally, a database put together by the University of Michigan provides funding seekers in Michigan resources made available by both the IRA and IIJA. However, some IRA-specific investment trackers still do exist.
One such tracker was put together by a partnership between Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and the Environmental Defense Fund. This site, aptly called iratracker.org, houses a database and an action tracker. The database has information on climate provisions in the IRA by department, and the action tracker records the actual steps taken by specific departments related to climate change. While the site does not have a map of investments, both the database and action tracker provide a picture of what the IRA money is for, and where it is going.
The IRA’s provisions had economic, climate, and justice impacts that all warrant tracking. This map from Data for Progress shows the direct and indirect contributions the IRA has made to jobs by state. The report claims that nearly 1 million jobs are estimated to be preserved or created by the IRA. Trackers from the Environmental and Energy and Law Program at Harvard and Litigation Tracker at Georgetown’s O’Neill Institute attempt to draw causal connections between the IRA’s provisions and their legal and justice impacts.
Similarly to the IIJA and ARPA, states often create their own searchable databases intended for potential grantees. One such example is from Hawaii’s State Energy Office, which updates its list frequently. A federal resource by the Department of Energy maps “energy communities” to identify which areas are eligible for the IRA Energy Community Tax Credit Bonus. These resources are primarily targeted toward grant recipients as opposed to the general public.
The IRA also created a $27 billion dollar Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, aimed at boosting entrepreneurship in the clean energy space. The fund is broken down into three areas: the $14 billion National Clean Investment Fund, the $6 billion Clean Communities Investment Accelerator, and the $7 billion Solar for All competition. Similar to the SSBCI, the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund mobilizes both public and private capital and targets historically disadvantaged areas and entrepreneurs.
Environmental groups, government agencies, and other organizations also track specific aspects of Bidenomics related to their primary interests. For example, the US Geological Survey tracks recent developments in critical mineral mining funded by the IIJA. Environmental groups such as the Bluegreen Alliance and Nature Conservancy also provide resources for policymakers on areas and populations most vulnerable to climate change that would benefit greatly from climate spending. Finally, international organizations such as the International Energy Agency, NewClimate, and Climate Analytics track how spending brings us closer to international carbon emission goals.
The spending from the ARPA, IIJA, IRA, and CHIPS impact nearly every major sector of the economy, from energy to health care, and it is vital to ensure that the public knows 1) how much money is being spent, 2) how it is being used, and 3) where it is going. The trackers above can help policymakers, small business owners, and the general public remain up to date about this historic spending and its wide impact. The four bills offer unprecedented opportunity to jump-start the clean energy transition. And as these trackers show, the transition has already begun.
1The IIJA is also referred to as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) by the White House and news sources.