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Richard Coffin: Federal Government Data, By The Numbers

August 29, 2017

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has launched USAFacts.org, a website collecting the federal government’s statistics and financial data. Why is he funding this new venture, and how can people use it to find out how government works?

In this episode of the weekly Budget & Tax News podcast, research fellow and managing editor Jesse Hathaway is joined by The Ballmer Group’s Richard Coffin, head of USAFacts.org, a new website created by former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

USAFacts.org is a nonpartisan website funded by Ballmer, Coffin says, creating a “Form 10-K for government,” concisely expressing how the U.S. government collects and spends taxpayer money.

Companies in the private sector file a Form 10-K with the government, Coffin says, and Ballmer reasoned that the government should be reported on in a similar manner.
Ballmer has spent more than $10 million on the project, assembling a team of researchers in Seattle to pour over government paperwork and present it in an easy-to-understand and unbiased way.

USAFacts.org was designed to be an integrated resource people can use to get the facts and form opinions based on those facts, Coffin says, instead of using “fake news” and faked documents.

In the future, The Ballmer Group will expand USAFacts.org’s datasets, Coffin says, including local and state government financial data—and even producing similar websites for other countries’ governments.

Article Tags
Government Spending
Author
Jesse Hathaway is the managing editor of Budget & Tax News, a publication of The Heartland Institute.
jhathaway@heartland.org @JesseinOH