Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA): What It Was

What Was the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA)?

The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) was a compilation of federal U.S. assistance programs that provided a full listing of programs available to corporate and government agencies, United States territories, and members of the American public.

Today, the CFDA's content is listed through the SAM.gov website.

Key Takeaways

  • The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) was a comprehensive list of federal assistance programs.
  • It is now available through the Assistance Listings section of the new site: SAM.gov.
  • CFDA detailed the federal grants, loans, scholarships, counseling, and other assistance programs available to the American public.
  • CFDA recipients included corporate and government agencies, United States territories, and members of the American public.
  • The CFDA's website was retired in 2018 after it was consolidated with other government systems programs to streamline the awards process.

Understanding the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA)

Entities seeking assistance to programs through the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) were required to have the authorization to conduct business with the federal government. Programs listed through the catalog were identified with a unique five-digit number. The CFDA's website was retired in 2018 after it was consolidated with other government systems programs to streamline the awards process.

Many of the U.S. federal government's agencies and departments offer grants, loans, scholarships, property, counseling, and other kinds of assistance within the U.S. Since 1984, information about these domestic assistance programs was compiled by the General Services Administration, which published it in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA). Many, but not all, programs provided financial assistance. Foreign aid was not included.

Entities that used the CFDA included:

  • Individuals
  • State and local governments (including the District of Columbia)
  • Federally recognized Native American tribal governments
  • Companies
  • Nonprofit organizations (NPOs)

Listings were available through the CFDA's official website CFDA.gov. Each program listed online was assigned a unique number by agency and program, enabling data and funding transparency. Each CFDA number contained five digits and appeared as ##.###. The first two digits indicated the agency responsible while the last three digits indicated the program itself.

Transition to the SAM.gov Website

The catalog was streamlined with nine other federal government systems in May 2018. This involved retiring the CFDA website and replacing it with the web portal SAM.gov.

The purpose was to make it easier to do business with the government for those authorized to do so. The CFDA and these other systems are now available through the Assistance Listings section of the new site: sam.gov. As in the past, assistance programs include loans, grants, insurance, and scholarships through this new system.

The federal government offered 2,293 domestic assistance programs as of the transition. The Department of Health and Human Services outpaced other agencies, offering 521 programs, or 22.7% of the total. Other agencies with a high volume of assistance programs included the Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Neither the CDFA nor SAM.gov ever solicited awards or applications. Not surprisingly, phone, internet, and social media scams cropped up claiming to offer easy government grant money. Scammers claimed to be from the Community for Federal Domestic Assistance, although no such organization even exists. People who perpetrated these grant frauds promised potential victims of being approved and receiving grant money provided they sent the scammer a fee or their personal information.

Once you identify a federal assistance listing that you’re interested in, you can link directly to grant opportunities on grants.gov or follow up with that specific agency using the contact information provided on sam.gov.

Available Assistance Programs

There are many different programs available through the GSA's sam.gov. Some of the most common ones include:

  • The Department of Education's Federal Pell Grant Program (84.063), which subsidizes undergraduate education for students with financial need
  • The Department of Health and Human Services' Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (93.558) program (often referred to simply as welfare), which supplements the earnings of low-income families with children
  • The Department of Homeland Security's flood insurance (97.022) program, which is administered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Smaller programs also exist to benefit small businesses. For instance, the Small Business Administration offers almost two dozen programs, including the Federal and State Technology Partnership Program (FAST 59.058), which is awarded "to strengthen the technological competitiveness of small business concerns in the U.S."

What Is the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance?

The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) is a Government-wide catalog of Federal programs, projects, services, and activities that provide assistance or benefits to a variety of recipients.

Is the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Legit?

Yes, the CFDA and programs offered through SAM.gov are sponsored by the federal government. However, beware of grant scams that may pose as the CFDA but are trying to defraud you. The government warns that agents claiming to be with the "Community for Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA)" or a similarly named organization, and not the federally-run Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA), may attempt to defraud you. They do represent themselves as agents of CFDA.

What Is the CFDA Called Now?

Since 2018, the CFDA is now housed at SAM.gov. This federally-run website stands for The System for Award Management.

The Bottom Line

The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) lists Federally available assistance programs that are offered for a variety of purposes and potential recipients, and which are offered across the scope of the Federal government. Since 2018, the contents of the CFDA are made available for free through the SAM.gov web portal.

Article Sources
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  1. U.S. General Services Administration. "CFDA Transition Frequently Asked Questions Overview."

  2. RSFLG. "CFDA Program."

  3. SAM.gov. "Assistance Listings."

  4. GRANTS.gov. "Grant Scam & Fraud Alerts."

  5. Federal Grants Wire. "Federal and State Technology Partnership Program."

  6. Grants. gov. "Don't Get Fooled by Grant Scams."

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