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How would you spend 2 trillion dollars? Here's how the federal government divided the budget in 2009:

2009 federal budget pie chart
Should the public vote on funding government programs?

No, elected officials should determine what's appropriate.
Yes, this would allow people to represent their interests.
I don't have an opinion, I just want the pie chart.

Additional comments (can be filled in without an answer selection; 250 character limit):

News (Archive)

A few website updates.

04-24-2011, 05:30

We have been unable to receive emails from our Contact page for approximately a week. This issue has been fixed and we encourage you to submit again if you feel you have missed us.

A new FAQ has been posted, for what we feel is an important issue. The entire list can be found at this link. Here is the link to the new question:

- What change in budget percentage can be expected for each department in a given year?

The main page now includes a poll. We are looking forward to seeing your responses.

Lastly, our message board has been taken down. It will be removed for an indefinite period while we make some changes to how we receive comments from users. This may include the implementation of structures for open discussion of specific topics. Look for this in the coming months.

Getting Started

Learn More
Read The Proposal and
the Questions and Answers

Rate the Departments
Cast your vote here.

Spin us an email.

Contact page is fixed.

04-16-2011, 11:30

A minor glitch with our Contact page has been remedied.

The form was requiring each user to submit an email address. This has been fixed and a user email will no longer be processed as a mandatory field.


2012 Federal Budget Released.

02-19-2011, 00:00

It has been less than a week since the proposed 2012 Federal Budget [1] was released by the President. We would like to point out some key similarities and differences between our own proposal and the ideas generated by those in Washington.

The main point of agreement we have with Capitol Hill is that something quickly needs to be done to control spending and the growing deficit. The President, and those on both sides of the political line, are not short on urgency. Everyone is pushing for change and we are excited to see that debate is taking place.

However, it is our opinion that the proposed budget does not dig deep enough. Tackling only select areas - such as discretionary spending [3] - leaves us wanting. Here, all parts of the budget are up for discussion. The structure of Public Direction lists all federal departments and agencies equally, so that the public can decide how to distribute funds.

We are also adamant about not letting the government reach the point of a possible shutdown [2]. We suggest that yearly tax rates are set and collected by the government, while the distribution is decided by the people. We feel this process would be balanced and representative.

Further discussion about this topic is always welcome. Comment on our message board, shoot us an email, and check out our citations.

[1] Proposed 2012 Federal Budget, PDF

[2] Congressional Budget Battle - NPR

[3] Budget Spin -


New FAQ and calculators.

12-23-2010, 23:00

Happy Festivus, everyone. We have been working hard over the past couple weeks and are now ready to present you with some new FAQ's. The whole list can be found at this link. Also, these links will send you to each individual question:

- Why are there so many departments that I need to rate?

- Is it easier to lose or gain funds? Is it different for large and small departments?

- The message '#DIV/0!' is displayed in various steps of the ratings calculator. What does this mean?

Our ratings calculators have also been updated. The changes address the error message which is noted in the question above.

The new spreadsheets mentioned in the previous news post will be coming in early January. Have an excellent holiday season! We will see you in the new year.


Updated calculators.

12-01-2010, 03:30

With the release of the Summary Tables FY2011 document, an updated list of official budget percentages is available. This government document can be found at this link.

The most accurate, available percentages are those from 2009 and our ratings calculators will continue to use those values. This update makes a change from the 2009 numbers listed in the Summary Tables FY2010 (which are listed as 'Estimate') to those listed in FY2011 (which are listed as 'Actual'). Our updated calculators may be found here.

We are currently working on several more FAQ's and additional spreadsheets. Both will be addressing the topic of expected budgetary change. We will have those on the website shortly.


Budget puzzle.

11-15-2010, 23:40

The New York Times has a different approach to the difficult budgetary choices that need to be made. Please note that while click-until-you-win is a viable strategy, the aim of the game is not to balance the budget, but to reduce the deficit to 3% of GDP.

One of us found only four palatable options and the other was ahead even before he was satisfied with the tax increases. Both of us were able to complete the exercise before descending into a heated argument. Or as we call it, Monday.

The New York Times budget puzzle.


A reaction to the Commission report.

11-12-2010, 21:15

The Budget Deficit Reduction Commission has startled few with its suggestions to reduce spending and increase taxes. The usual mandatory spending suspects turn up, while a $1.4 trillion discretionary trim is also suggested. With no obvious benefit to any one group, many pundits, politicos and policymakers have pronounced it dead on arrival, perhaps in the hope the prognosis will stick. Many see themselves as defenders of services and constituents, with realistic reductions as opposed to a magic bullet as an encroachment on their domain, not to mention political suicide.

This inevitability led us to launch this website as a tool to gauge the needs and will of voters as a whole, and to find the most beneficial way to distribute a reduction or surplus. We've tried to de-politicize and eliminate bias from the budgeting process, as much as possible. Our ideas are explained further in The Proposal, or you can participate directly using the links at the right of the page.

Here are articles from PBS and Bloomberg to give a primer on the Budget Commission's proposal and the reaction it has generated.


We want to hear from you.

11-03-2010, 21:15

Readership of our site is growing but we are still not seeing involved participation. Send us an email. Let us know what is keeping you from submitting ratings or commenting on the message board.

What can we do to make Public Direction better? We want all of your thoughtful ideas.


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by Casey Houser and Christian Yaeger
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