We found Pennsylvania state employees spent more than $1.3 million on out-of-state travel last year after the governor banned such travel.
How did you get started? (tip, editor assignment, etc.)
This was simply a case of the reporter doing a public records check to see whether the travel ban was being followed. Based on past stories we've done about state government, I had a hunch we'd find something.
What were the key sources? (people, documents, etc.)
The key source was a database of all travel by state employees in 2008. We also talked to state officials and a government reform activist.
What was the biggest roadblock you had to overcome?
It took some time and legwork to find a database of travel records for state employees. Then it took some negotiating with the state to get the information in a manageable form.
Do you have any advice for journalists working on a similar story?
Keep an eye out for politicians making promises to save money in difficult times — then check them out.