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USAFacts breaks down government financial data with Power BI

Headshot of article author Corina Radovanovich

On tax day this year USAFacts is relying on Power BI to publish a 10-k report to provide a comprehensive view of the combined US federal, state and local governments’ revenues and expenditures. The data is collected from multiple government sources including the US Treasury Department, the Office of Management and Budget, the US Census Bureau, and the Federal Reserve.

The USAFacts team used Power BI to quickly and efficiently build interactive data visualizations that could be published directly to the web, without writing any code. Visitors to the site, across both web and mobile, can click through the charts of greatest interest to them and explore the various elements of the government budget.

The reports leverage some of our favorite Power BI features. For example, the Revenues report showcases the popular Bookmarking feature to toggle between a Table or Chart view. This provides the viewer with the option to increase the amount of detail, or to view only the charts instead of a table.

The Federal Land Ownership in the U.S. Total report has the same toggle button, but this time provides the option to show the data as a table vs. maps. The maps are interactive and display just the selected state data when marked.

The Combined Income Statements report features clean tables with a drop down filter on the top right. This approach gives viewers the flexibility to pick ‘inflation-adjusted’ or not for example, pending their financial reporting needs.

USAFacts is empowering their audience, journalists, academics, think tanks, and analysts alike to be able to reuse the visualizations hosted on USAFacts and even mash them up with their own data, or re-visualize the data discover new stories. USAFacts will share the Power BI content as embeddable links and the underlying Power BI files if you request them by email, so it’s easy for to include interactive reports in stories.

A growing number of media are adopting Power BI because it is a simple and scalable solution to discover, create and share data stories. In addition to individuals creating visuals for stories, organizations like the Associated Press and USAFacts are providing Power BI reports to journalists and others interested in sharing data online with Power BI publish to web to scale the distribution of the data they share. By providing pre-built Power BI reports, these organizations enable anyone to easily include an interactive report created in Power BI in an online story with just a few clicks.

There’s growing demand for collaborative, flexible, data journalism that empowers the audience to reuse, reinterpret, and repurpose data stories to reveal insights and establish a deeper connection with their own audience. By using Power BI, they’re ensuring the tooling required is low cost, easy to use and future-proof because it’s built and supported for core productivity scenario within Enterprises. They’re removing the technological barriers that prevented many from participating in data journalism.

With these choices, they’re showing how Power BI can democratize data journalism, bringing in more journalists, bloggers, and analysts.

Using a Power BI interactive visualization in your data story

If you are interested in using a Power BI embed code, follow the steps below to use the report in your own public story, blog or website. If you want to find out more about how to get started with Power BI to build your own reports, you can download the latest version of the free Power BI Desktop and sign up for the cloud service.

Often an organization providing a Power BI report for data journalism will offer two options:

  1. An “embed code” that enables you to easily include the very same interactive graphic on your own site and offer your readers the ability to also “explore” the data. You can increase engagement from your site visitors by enabling them to uncover how the data relates to them personally. To include the interactive report on your site, simply copy-and-paste the several lines of Web code into your site’s content management system. Note that the embed code should be sized to fit the iFrame on your site, and when implemented correctly, will appear without any extra grey borders.
  2. A “Power BI” file, which contains the data and interactive graphic in a single, editable “.pbix” format for use in Power BI Desktop. If you are interested in publishing the interactive graphic, but would like to make modifications to it first – perhaps changing its colors, fonts, other elements of style – then download the .pbix file and adjust it using Power BI Desktop. Once you have customized the report, you will be ready to add it to your website. Follow these instructions to publish into your service, and then learn how to create an embed code to publish the report to the web.

Where to from here?

If you want to learn more about Power BI we recommend the following resources:

  • Power BI Documentation – covers all aspects of Power BI.
  • Power BI Community – online forum where you can search for answers, learn from others and discuss Power BI with experts and peers. This is also a great resource to keep up to date with Power BI and new features and improvements that are continually being released.
    • You can also help improve Power BI by suggesting and voting on ideas that will be built into the product – have your say here.
  • Data Stories Gallery – find other reports and examples of data storytelling from members of our community.
  • If you have questions about to use Power BI for data journalism, check our website here or email us directly at