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What Our Terms Mean

A stimulus dollar goes through several different steps on its way from the government to a contractor's pocket where, the hope is, it will be used to create or save jobs. For clarity, we're using a slightly different breakdown than the government does. Government agencies mostly stick to the somewhat unclear — and overlapping — terms "Appropriated," "Obligated" and "Paid," but we've tried to give a clearer sense of where money is in the pipeline:

Spent: Money that has actually been paid, leaving the government's bank account and entering the economy.

In Process: Money that has been committed to a certain project, but not yet paid out.

Left to Spend: Money that's been set aside for an agency to spend, but which the agency has not yet decided how to spend.

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