Poking around federal contracts

The Sunlight Foundation recently posted a database of federal contracts they obtained via FOIA (and litigation, apparently). I thought this would be another fun opportunity to work on my javascript skills and poke around a new data source. I’ve never really looked at federal contracts even though there is a lot of data that is readily accessible online.

There are 14 years of data, starting in 2000, but the first two appear to be incomplete and of course 2013 isn’t over yet, so I restricted my analysis to 2002-2013. I wanted to map the data, not because I had any interesting point to make about the location of federal contracts, but rather because I wanted to get more practice using Kartograph. Unfortunately, the raw data does not provide very good information on the locations of contract winners. Most of the time there is a little bit of location data embedded in a field for the contract winner’s name. But these are often nothing more than zip codes or incomplete addresses. To locate the data on a map, these addresses needed to be geocoded (turning an address into a lat/lon coordinate pair).

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