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

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

Key Takeaways

  • The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance was an inventory of government assistance programs.
  • The catalog provided federal grants, loans, scholarships, counseling, and other assistance programs available to the American public.
  • 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.
  • The list is now available through the General Services Administration's website sam.gov.

How the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Worked

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.

The catalog was streamlined with nine other federal government systems in May 2018. 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).

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.

Special Considerations

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.

Source: CFDA

Examples of Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) 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."