Hello, and welcome to the 11th edition of the Data Liberation Project’s newsletter. Inside: Nearly 40,000 satisfaction survey responses from the VA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families program, and a listing of the USDA’s data inventory.
The US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program awards grants to “selected private non-profit organizations and consumer cooperatives that will assist very low-income Veteran families residing in or transitioning to permanent housing.”
According to the SSVF’s fiscal year 2021 annual report, the program “has served a cumulative total of 732,042 Veterans” and distributes hundreds of millions of dollars per year.
As part of the regulations governing the program, SSVF grantees “must provide each participant with a satisfaction survey […] within 30 days of such participant’s pending exit from the grantee’s program.” Those surveys, which (at least in recent years) have been conducted by a contractor, can be completed online or over the phone. They include a series of questions about the services the participant received, and their degree of satisfaction with those services.
In October 2022, the Data Liberation Project filed a FOIA request to the VA for data records corresponding to those satisfaction surveys. In July 2023, the department provided a set of Excel files with anonymized response-level data for surveys conducted March 2016 through September 2022 (with the exception of October 2020 – September 2021, i.e., fiscal year 2021), corresponding to nearly 40,000 survey responses. The VA also provided a series of PDF reports containing analyses of the survey responses. The reports go back to 2015, although the content and formatting vary by year.
To learn more, visit our main documentation for the data.
(Many thanks to DLP summer intern Jake Zucker for his contributions to the documentation and data release.)
In January, the Data Liberation Project filed a FOIA request to the US Department of Agriculture seeking records listing the department’s major data systems.
A few weeks ago, the USDA provided its response, in the form of a spreadsheet listing 2,985 active, proposed, in-development, phasing-out, and retired databases and information systems. Its 23 columns provide a range of attributes about each system, including its name, “owning agency,” lifecycle status, and description. (For slightly more detail, read here.)
The DLP plans to use this listing to formulate follow-up FOIA requests, seeking the actual contents of some of these systems. If you’d like to nominate a particular system to pursue, reply to this email.