Do you know what the former chief executive of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, has been up to since his retirement back in 2014? Well, the leader had initially mentioned that he wouldn’t be looking towards philanthropic efforts and was completely satisfied with paying the taxes he already was. But, this got him thinking about where the said collected capital was being spent by the administration. This was about three years ago and now we have the fruits of this curiosity — USAFacts.org.
This is the latest business effort from the Redmond giant’s former executive and is aimed at providing the general populace access to government spending data without any veils. Ballmer had quietly been working along with the University of Pennsylvania to provide everyone with a transparent and non-partisan view of the government’s trillion dollar budget spending data across the United States, reports New York Times.
As part of this initiative, called USAFacts.org, which was operating in stealth mode until date but the platform is open to access for all at this instant. Over the past three years, Ballmer had been working with economists, university professors, and other professionals to collect massive amounts of information on government practices related to taxes paid by them. The partners for this project include names such as Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR), the Penn Wharton Budget Model, and Lynchburg College.
On the website, the mission of this initiative has been described as under:
USAFacts is a new data-driven portrait of the American population, our government’s finances, and government’s impact on society. We are a non-partisan, not-for-profit civic initiative and have no political agenda or commercial motive. We provide this information as a free public service and are committed to maintaining and expanding it in the future.
All data combined within this neat database comes directly from government sources. This project, which involved giving form to existing essential govt data, cost him about $10 million in direct funding and grants till date.
Now, Ballmer has made this treasure trove of data public available to American netizens to make them aware of the revenue and spending of the government. This data was already publicly available but had never been paid much heed and often ignored. This collected and composed database will, however, will now intrigue more individuals to head to their website to have a closer look at the revenue and spending across federal, state and local agencies.
As for what you can know about the government’s spending from this database, almost anything. You will not only be able to know the total cost of parking in the States but also the total amount it costs to collect them, suggests NYT. USAFacts will also provide you any information about the spending on military and medical expenses over the years.
You know, when I really wanted to understand in depth what a company was doing, Amazon or Apple, I’d get their 10-K and read it. It’s wonky, it’s this, it’s that, but it’s the greatest depth you’re going to get, and it’s accurate.
The basic idea of this project, Ballmer says, was also based on the lack of a form similar to 10-K document, which is required to be filed by companies with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) annually, to know more about govt’s spending. Now, he has finally unveiled the fruit of his dedication and believes that it will please the business-minded.
The launch happened on Tuesday, April 18th during an event at the Economic Club of New York. Mr. Ballmer debuted the searchable website coupled with multiple PowerPoint presentations and a 319-page 10-K filing that breaks down the data with help of numerous charts.