Resource Center

Stories

 

 

 

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 26,000 investigative stories — both print and broadcast.

These stories are searchable online or by contacting the Resource Center directly (573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org) where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Browse or search the tipsheet section of our library below. Stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center.

 

 

 



Search results for "Federal Government" ...

  • Nuclear Waste

    What could possibly be wrongheaded about a U.S.-Russian effort to eliminate 64 tons of plutonium that could be fashioned into thousands of nuclear weapons? Begun in the 1990’s, it was blessed by four presidents, including Barack Obama, who called it an important way “to prevent terrorists from acquiring nuclear weapons.” To carry it out, the federal government spent billions of dollars on a South Carolina plant to transform the Cold War detritus into fuel for civilian nuclear power plants, an act meant to turn swords into ploughshares — all with surprisingly little debate or oversight in Washington. When the Center for Public Integrity looked closely at the project, after hearing of some of its troubles, we found plenty of scandal. Our major conclusions are reported in our "Nuclear Waste" series of four articles totaling around 12,000 words that were published in June 2013.

    Tags: nuclear waste; nuclear weapons; power plants

    By Douglas Birch, R. Jeffrey Smith, David Donald, Alex Cohen

    Center for Public Integrity

    2013

  • Hanford's Dirty Secrets

    “Hanford’s Dirty Secrets” exposed mismanagement, wasted tax dollars and a cover-up by government officials and private contractors at the country’s most contaminated site -- the Hanford Nuclear Reservation located in Washington state -- where the most complex environmental cleanup effort in human history is underway. The liquid and solid waste housed at Hanford is dangerously radioactive and toxic, and any leak has the potential to pose serious threats to human and environmental health throughout the Pacific Northwest. The federal government produced plutonium at Hanford for the nuclear bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan and for the U.S. nuclear arsenal throughout the Cold War. This production left behind millions of gallons of cancer-causing nuclear byproducts, much of which remains stored in aging underground tanks at Hanford. KING’s reporting showed that the government contractor in charge of the tanks ignored signs of leaking nuclear waste for nearly a year while the company collected millions in bonus money from the Dept. of Energy for its "very successful" stewardship of the waste holding tanks. In addition, we revealed that during the year the contractor failed to address the leak, the company wasted millions of taxpayer funds on a project rendered useless by the very fact that the tank was leaking

    Tags: nuclear waste; Hanford; radioactive; toxins; Dept of Energy

    By usannah Frame, reporter; Steve Douglas, photojournalist; Russ Walker, Executive Producer; John Vu, graphic designer; Mark Ginther, News Director

    KING-TV (Seattle)

    2013

  • Spotlight on Shaken-Baby Syndrome

    The Medill Justice Project, through the hard-hitting reporting of student journalists, has taken on a largely overlooked and misunderstood area of the criminal justice system: shaken-baby syndrome. Scores of mothers, fathers, day care workers and other caregivers throughout the United States are being accused of violently shaking children, despite an emotionally charged debate in medical circles about the accuracy of the diagnosis. Our relentless examination of this issue—through published investigative articles, breaking stories, fight for public records, motions in federal court, multimedia features and other stories—has provided a deeper, nuanced understanding of this complex subject. Our groundbreaking investigations into shaken-baby syndrome have uncovered revelatory information, influenced criminal justice proceedings, impacted public policy and challenged government agencies to abide by the First Amendment.

    Tags: shaken baby syndrome; babies; criminal justice; diagnosis;

    By Christina Assi; Anna Bisaro; Rebecca Cohen; Anika Dutta; Stephanie Fuerte; Alex Hampl; Sarah Husain; McKenzie Maxson; Lauryn Schroeder; Megan Thielking; Diama Tsai

    The Medill Justice Project

    2013

  • WTAE: Where is Pittsburgh's Mayor?

    After Pittsburgh's mayor came under scrutiny during a federal criminal grand jury probe into his administration, WTAE-TV investigative reporter Bofta Yimam requested Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's work calendar for a one-year period. The federal investigation led to the mayor's hand-picked police chief to plead guilty to conspiracy and fraud. Through the official calendar, we hoped to learn more about the mayor’s comings and goings during the period federal investigators are examining. The city, however, denied our request. Our series of ongoing reports showed the difficulty in accessing a public official's calendar in Pennsylvania and highlighted the need for transparency. Through the state's Right to Know law, we filed an appeal and won a decision with the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records. Instead of turning over the records, however, the city Law Department filed a lawsuit against Yimam in the Court of Common Pleas. Now, taxpayers will pay for a court case to keep a calendar private, for a mayor who is under federal investigation and who chose not to run for re-election.

    Tags: foia; government; mayor; open records

    By Bofta Yimam; Brian Caldwell; Andy Cunningham

    WTAE-TV (Pittsburgh)

    2013

  • The Gifted Life of a Governor

    Over months of in-depth investigative reporting, Washington Post reporters discovered Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell--a respected state leader and rising star in his party--held a secret: He and his family had accepted lavish gifts and large loans from the chief executive of a struggling dietary supplement manufacturer, even while working to promote the company. The gifts included luxury items such as designer clothes, a Cape Cod vacation, a Rolex watch and a catered wedding. The money totaled $120,000 in loans over about a year in 2011 and 2012, none repaid before the Washington Post started asking questions. After dozens of articles, the governor apologized for his actions and repaid the money. State and federal authorities opened criminal probes and leaders in both parties have promised to rewrite state ethics laws, long considered some of the most lax in the nation.

    Tags: ethics; government; bribes; gifts

    By Rosalind S. Helderman; Carol D. Leonnig; Laura Vozzella

    The Washington Post

    2013

  • Police Cell Phone Surveillance

    The National Security Agency isn't the only government entity secretly collecting data from people's cellphones. The joint USA TODAY Network investigation found that local police are increasingly scooping it up, too. Armed with new technologies, including mobile devices that tap into cellphone data in real time, dozens of local and state police agencies are capturing information about thousands of cellphone users at a time, whether they are targets of an investigation or not, according to public records obtained by USA TODAY and Gannett newspapers and TV stations across the U.S. The records, from more than 125 police agencies in 33 states, reveal about one in four law-enforcement agencies have used a tactic known as a "tower dump," which gives police data about the identity, activity and location of any phone that connects to the targeted cellphone towers over a set span of time, usually an hour or two. A typical dump covers multiple towers, and wireless providers, and can net information from thousands of phones. We also found that at least 25 police departments own a Stingray, a suitcase-size device that costs as much as $400,000 and acts as a fake cell tower. The system, typically installed in a vehicle so it can be moved into any neighborhood, tricks all nearby phones into connecting to it and feeding data to police. In some states, the devices are available to any local police department via state surveillance units. The federal government funds most of the purchases, via anti-terror grants. Police mostly didn’t want to talk about the tactics, though privacy advocates and state and federal lawmakers expressed serious concerns about the ability of local police to scoop up large amounts of data on people who weren’t under investigation and typically without the same protections, and checks and balances, afforded by a search warrant.

    Tags: police; technology; privacy

    By Joint investigation by USA Today and Gannett Co. newsapers and TV stations

    USA Today

    2013

  • Biggest of the Smalls: The Rise of a Federal Contractor

    In the last decade, the federal government has made an unprecedented push to direct work to small businesses in order to help such firms gain a foothold in the U.S. economy. The amount of money devoted to small business contracting rose 70 percent to $90 billion annually during that period. In this tide of spending, one firm stood out as the paragon of success: MicroTechnologies LLC. Records show it received $1.4 billion in federal technology deals over nine years, much of it reserved for small firms own by minority and service-disabled veteran entrepreneurs. MicroTech became the fastest growing small contractor in the nation. Founder Anthony R. Jimenez, declared it to be the "Biggest of the Smalls." Those deals transformed Jimenez's lifestyle. He bought a mansion -- and then commissioned a quarter-million entertainment system for it. He began driving a $190,000 Mercedes coupe. And he became a top sponsor of multiple martial arts "cage fighting," routinely flying to Las Vegas at company expense. “I am living the American Dream,” he said in a letter to The Washington Post. But MicroTech's extraordinary ascent begged a simple-seeming question: How could such a large company still be eligible to receive contracts set aside for small firms? Until The Post's Robert O'Harrow Jr. dug in, no one in the media or government knew the answer or bothered to check. O'Harrow pushed ahead the old fashioned way: he issued Freedom of Information Act Requests for contracting documents and demanded government officials open their files. His investigation found that MicroTech had misled the government and the public about its ownership and operations to get access to preferential contracts and burnish its own image. In doing so, the firm abused taxpayers and deprived other small firms access to hundreds of million in deals. In response to those findings, the government suspended MicroTech from contracting and changed some contracting rules. Two inspectors general offices are investigating and Congress has launched its own probes.

    Tags: government contract; small business;

    By Robert O'Harrow

    Washington Post

    2013

  • A Home, But No Help

    As rates of homelessness were soaring in Hillsborough County, the local government’s program for housing the poor was in crisis. It was paying millions of dollars to slumlords who housed the homeless, including veterans and families with small children, alongside sex offenders in filthy, crime-ridden and bug-infested buildings. It was sending the sick and dying to a squalid, unlicensed home where they were abused and they languished without care. It even ensured, through a perverse misuse of a federal reimbursement plan, that a few homeless people who qualified for federal disability money stayed destitute by garnishing most of their government checks. All of this was going on, but nobody --- not top government leaders nor the taxpayers who funded it --- knew the extent of the problems. That all changed when the Tampa Bay Times started reporting on the program. A series of stories by reporters Will Hobson and Michael LaForgia brought greater transparency to local government. The stories resulted in sweeping reforms and gave the area’s vulnerable homeless a voice for the first time in decades.

    Tags: homeless;

    By Michael LaForgia; Will Hobson

    Tampa Bay Times

    2013

  • Biggest of the Smalls: The Rise of a Federal Contractor

    In the last decade, the federal government has made an unprecedented push to direct work to small businesses in order to help such firms gain a foothold in the U.S. economy. The amount of money devoted to small business contracting rose 70 percent to $90 billion annually during that period. In this tide of spending, one firm stood out as the paragon of success: MicroTechnologies LLC. Records show it received $1.4 billion in federal technology deals over nine years, much of it reserved for small firms own by minority and service-disabled veteran entrepreneurs. MicroTech became the fastest growing small contractor in the nation. Founder Anthony R. Jimenez, declared it to be the "Biggest of the Smalls." Those deals transformed Jimenez's lifestyle. He bought a mansion -- and then commissioned a quarter-million entertainment system for it. He began driving a $190,000 Mercedes coupe. And he became a top sponsor of multiple martial arts "cage fighting," routinely flying to Las Vegas at company expense. “I am living the American Dream,” he said in a letter to The Washington Post. But MicroTech's extraordinary ascent begged a simple-seeming question: How could such a large company still be eligible to receive contracts set aside for small firms? Until The Post's Robert O'Harrow Jr. dug in, no one in the media or government knew the answer or bothered to check. O'Harrow's investigation found that MicroTech had misled the government and the public about its ownership and operations to get access to preferential contracts and burnish its own image. In doing so, the firm abused taxpayers and deprived other small firms access to hundreds of million in deals. In response to those findings, the government suspended MicroTech from contracting and changed some contracting rules. Two inspectors general offices are investigating and Congress has launched its own probes.

    Tags: small business; money; government; business

    By Robert O'Harrow Jr.

    The Washington Post

    2013

  • "In Harm's Way"

    "In Harm's Way" uncovers a pattern of poor government regulation and dangerous safety problems in the booming interstate bus industry, which now carries as many passengers from city to city as domestic airlines--700 million passenger rides a year. In an investigation that took most of the year, the KNBC I-Team exposed how federal regulators routinely allow unsafe buses to remain on the roads, sometimes with fatal consequences. In 2013, California had a record number of major bus crashes--11 of them--with hundreds of injuries and over a dozen deaths.

    Tags: bus; passengers; crashes; safety

    By Joel Grover

    KNBC-TV (Los Angeles)

    2013