Resource Center


The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 26,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364573-882-3364  or where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

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  • Public Salary project

    This entry consists of stories culled from a massive request for government compensation from hundreds of government agencies, cities, counties, school, college and special districts. This projects follows the money. The data is made public through data bases on our web sites and culled through by investigative reporter Thomas Peele, who roots out stories from deep in the data, including ones about secret pension boosting perks, officials paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for not working, government managers sitting on huge banks of unused vacation time to cash in at retirement, part-time elected officials who do little work while being paid hundreds of dollars and an hour, long forgotten politicians receiving free life-time government health insurance decades are leaving office. The project routinely ferrets out information about the spending of public money that not even those in charge of government agencies are aware of until Peele tells them: "Wow,” said James Fang, a member of the board of the BART transit district when informed data showed the agencies former general manager, who had resigned two years earlier in the midst if being fired, had remained in the agency's payroll for years, raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars and jacking up her future pension. “She was still on the payroll? I did not know this. It’s startling.”

    Tags: Pension; Public employees

    By Thomas Peele

    Mercury News/Bay Area News Group


  • Explosion at West

    Tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer at a central Texas plant exploded last April with the force of a small earthquake. The blast came just two days after the Boston Marathon and, in the national media, was overshadowed by events in the Northeast. While not the result of a terrorist attack, the explosion in West, Texas, was far larger and deadlier, and raised more significant public safety issues. In a series of investigative reports over eight months, The Dallas Morning News revealed that ammonium nitrate remains virtually unregulated by federal and state governments, despite its well-known explosive potential. (Timothy McVeigh used it in 1995 to blow up an Oklahoma City federal building.) Efforts to strengthen oversight have been blocked by industry lobbyists and government gridlock, The News found, even as the Pentagon sought bans on ammonium nitrate in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In pro-business, anti-regulation Texas, the federal government’s lax oversight meant no oversight at all. West Fertilizer Co. – scene of the disaster – violated almost every safety best practice. No state agency was charged with preventing an ammonium nitrate blast. There was no public registry of companies that handled the compound, even though many facilities are near homes and schools. Texas prohibits most counties from having fire codes and does not require facilities like West to obtain liability insurance. Gov. Rick Perry and other state politicians, who created this wide-open environment, washed their hands of the problem. They said West was a tragic accident that no amount of regulation could have prevented. The News’ findings, however, proved otherwise.

    Tags: West Fertilizer Co.; Safety; State agency; Texas; Gov. Rick Perry

    By Maud Beelman

    Dallas Morning News


  • Hung Out to Dry

    FEMA is currently in the “final stages of revisiting all of the flood maps throughout the country”. The investigation revealed major problems in the mapping and these mistakes could be costly to the residents in these areas. These residents living in the “flood zones” must pay flood insurance or risk losing their homes. Many of the residents believe they should be excluded from the flood area and come together to prove FEMA wrong.

    Tags: Federal Emergency Management Agency; South Central Los Angeles; Oxford; Southern California; disaster; relief; help; flood base level

    By Karen Foshay; Judy Muller; Bret Marcus; Justine Schmidt; Lata Pandya; Brian Frank; Alberto Arce

    KCET-TV (Los Angeles, Calif.)


  • "Buffalo economic development agency scandal"

    The News exposed numerous economic blunders by members of Buffalo's economic development agency. The use of anti-poverty funds for employee health insurance perks and BlackBerry devices are just some of the misuses of city finances. The city also financed a failed restaurant that was owned by a "former pro basketball player" with the anti-poverty funds.

    Tags: Leonard Stokes; Michelle Barron; Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corp.; Byron W. Brown; Brian C. Davis; Brian Reilly

    By James Heaney; Patrick Lakamp; Brian Meyer

    News (Buffalo, N.Y.)


  • The Financial Collapse

    Among the findings in this package are: In February, Morgenson warned that the arcane contracts known as credit-default swaps were so volatile and explosive that they would "set off a chain reaction of losses at financial institutions." In May, she examined the moves by private investment firms to buy up hundreds of New York apartment buildings, betting that they could evict tenants and raise rents. In July, she reported on the enormous increase in consumer debt and the changes in the lending system that encouraged risky loans. In September, she dissected the small London Investment unit that had bedazzled the insurance giant AIG with its profits but soon brought it to its knees and helped trigger a widespread collapse. In November, she profiled the reckless executives who gambled on subprime home mortgages and led Merrill Lynch to its demise. In December, she held the credit-rating agencies to sharp account, in particular Moody's, showing how they had minimized or overlooked the dangers to investors.

    Tags: AIG; credit-default swaps; Wall Street; Merill Lynch; Federal Reserve; columnists

    By Gretchen Morgenson

    New York Times


  • American's Neglected Levees

    Scripps reviewed the federal and state level system of levee oversight and found that no one at any level of government knows where all levees are, what they protect or what shape they are in. Thousands of communities are being forced by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to get levees certified under a national upgrade of flood hazard maps, but even FEMA admits the standards are outdated and don't accurately reflect the risks to people behind them.

    Tags: FEMA; levee; flood; Army Corps of Engineers; infrastructure; National Levee Safety Committee; insurance

    By Lee Bowman; Thomas Hargrove

    Scripps Howard News Service


  • The Insurance Hoax

    The authors explored how the property insurance industry has changed over the last couple of decades and adopted a policy of consistently underpaying policyholders. The authors used internal documents from major insurance companies as well as first person sources to show how insurance agencies are handling claims in ways that pressure policyholders to accept low payments.

    Tags: insurance; business; wild fires; corporate greed; property insurance; insurance agency; fraud

    By David Dietz; Darrell Preston

    Bloomberg News (New York)


  • Exclusive Beach Towns Rely on Government Dollars to Rebuild

    The ever-expanding definition of federal emergencies and the legacy of risky building along the coast have made disasters into a growing industry. Beach towns and resorts benefit from disasters by using tax-payer relief funds as a form of insurance for their municipal property. These resorts and towns carry very little insurance themselves, because they know that they can rely on federal funds to cover storm damage. The average number of federal disasters has tripled since the 1950s; since then, federal agencies have spent $140 billion. Factors such as loose criteria, lax financial standards and golf course subsidies add to the expense.

    Tags: FEMA; hurricane; tropical storm; natural disaster; victim-relief; Federal Emergency Management Agency

    By Gilbert M. Gaul;Anthony R. Wood

    Philadelphia Inquirer


  • Always Awash

    In many Maryland counties, properties that get flooded are rebuilt often at the taxpayer's expense. FEMA is working on the repetitive flood losses. As this report reveals this rebuilding is mainly because the flood maps have not been updated recently.

    Tags: Federal Emergency Management Agency; Hurricane Isabel; Maryland counties; National Flood Insurance; Maryland department of Environment

    By Debra Siedt

    The Star Democrat (Easton, MD)


  • Day of the Dead: The declining autopsy rate is hurting medical science

    This article discusses the declining rate of autopsies being performed nationwide, and their implications for medical science. "Doctors are reluctant to request them, scared to discover a misdiagnosis that could lead to an expensive malpractice suit. Health maintenance organizations and government agencies are reluctant to pay for them. And there is a shortage of doctors trained to perform them." The article examines the various benefits autopsies offer the medical community -- from measuring the effects of new drugs to understanding various diseases and other health problems, and the possible benefits to families who want to determine just how their loved one died, and from what. The growth of one Los Angeles-based discount autopsy business, 1-800-AUTOPSY, is also discussed.

    Tags: autopsy; medical examiner; coroner; HMO; health insurance; science; medical science; death; deceased; organs; research; pathologist; discount business

    By Alyson Mead

    In These Times (Chicago)