Tags : federal data

Federal education data highlights rising college costs for low-income students

If you’re shopping for a college, forget the published sticker price. Just like airline passengers on the same flight, students on the same campus can pay vastly different rates.

And on the whole, those rates are increasing faster for the poorest students.

That’s what a Dallas Morning News analysis of federal education data found this year. In a project with the Hechinger Report, we examined four years of data showing what students actually paid, based on their family income. We produced several stories and an online search tool called Tuition Tracker.  

The inequity was most glaring at the ...

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Fire data helps show scope of arsons

Convicted arsonist Kenneth Allen paused for a moment during an interview in front of our television cameras at his Muncie, Ind., home. Then he offered a remarkable admission.

“There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think: ‘Man, I was a monster.’ I’m just thankful no one was hurt,” said Allen, who had spent nearly four years in federal prison.

Allen helped lead a ring of 46 men and women who were convicted of setting at least 73 home and vehicle fires and collecting at least $3.8 million in insurance payouts – the largest known ...

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A look at how journalists are handling the shutdown

Journalists have been searching for alternative resources after the government shutdown caused many online databases to go down and government offices to close as employees went on furlough.  For more information about how the shutdown is affecting news coverage, see the stories below.  

For information on closed FOIA offices:
Both the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and MuckRock are keeping lists of closed FOIA offices.  The FOIA blog is posting regular updates related to any effects of the government shutdown.

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Detecting lobbying in White House visitor data

A few weeks after I returned from an IRE and NICAR boot camp earlier this year, I got a copy of proposed changes to a rule for fracking – or hydraulic fracturing – for oil and gas on public land that was being developed by federal regulators.

Just about every change to the Bureau of Land Management fracking rule had gone the way the oil and gas industry had wanted.

After I wrote a story about that, I still had a question – what led to all the proposed changes? To figure that out, I turned to the White House Visitor Access Records ...

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SBA disaster loan data updated in NICAR Database Library

In the wake of a disaster, individuals and business owners are often left with severely damaged property. Many turn for help to the Small Business Administration, which approves low-interest loans to help rebuild. For declared disasters in 2011 alone, the Small Business Administration approved over $1 billion in loans.

NICAR has updated the SBA database of these loans, which is now current through Sept. 2012. 

WHAT'S IN IT?
Disaster loans through the SBA are one of the primary forms of federal assistance for individuals and non-farm, private-sector businesses who have suffered losses. The data have information on the borrower ...

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Transparency Watch: What journalists need to know about FOIAonline

Federal agencies have launched FOIAonline, a tool that journalists can use to file, track and appeal requests for documents and data under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. Here's what you need to know about the service, which was announced just last week.

Not all federal agencies are participating. Here's who's on board:

  • Department of Commerce, minus the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Federal Labor Relations Authority
  • Merit Systems Protection Board
  • National Archives and Records Administration

You can search for other FOIA requests. This search for "pollution" turns up 31 results.

You ...

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Transparency Watch: FOIA requests getting outsourced

In a follow-up to its story on the failure's of Obama administration agencies to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests, Bloomberg News reports that at least 25 percent of FOIA requests are outsourced to contractors

"Since fiscal 2009, the year President Barack Obama took office, spending on FOIA-related contracts has jumped about 40 percent, leaving transparency advocates wondering who’s making the decisions on whether records should be kept secret."

Previously, Bloomberg had found that 19 of 20 cabinet-level agencies disobeyed the law and just eight of the 57 federal agencies met the 20-day window required by the ...

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Grave Mistakes in SSA Master Death File

Scripps Howard News Service's "Grave Mistakes" project was born out of a failed voter-fraud investigation in 2008 and some offhand remarks by data-savvy colleagues at the NICAR conference in Raleigh, N.C., this year.

What we ended up with was a fascinating story of how simple typographical errors by a huge federal bureaucracy can have a frightening impact upon the lives of everyday Americans. Members of Congress have begun inquiries as a result of this project.

Journalists for many years have used the Social Security Administration's ominously titled "Death Master File" database since it is supposed to list ...

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Stats analysis shows school opportunity gap

ProPublica’s recent Opportunity Gap project brought together reporting on an important education issue – whether low-income students in public schools have equal access to advanced classes - statistical analysis and way-cool interactive tools.

The project used a new set of Department of Education data that tracked enrollment in advanced classes and special programs in public schools. This data is known as the Civil Rights Data Collection, which is compiled by DOE’s Office of Civil Rights.

The idea came from ProPublica education reporter Sharona Coutts, who got an early copy of the OCR data and wanted to see if there was ...

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