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PublicSource: Revelations of police technology problems spark FBI scrutiny, alleged retaliation and unfinished workFor the first time, PublicSource reported how Pittsburgh's reform-minded police chief touched off an FBI investigation into how city employee's handled software contracts. Included were projects that were never implemented by 2018, though they were fully paid for five years earlier using federal funds. The federal investigation ended without any charges, but internal investigations in the city were ongoing. A former officer also claims he faced retaliation for reporting concerns about tech projects, specifically from one of the city's highest ranking public safety officials. He is currently suing the city over several of the same concerns first publicly reported in our stories. Our stories led directly to internal changes in city purchasing and increased scrutiny of purchasing by City Council.
The City of Pittsburgh's cybersecurity is lacking, according to a commissioned report, and officials won't address the issues publicly. That same report found serious issues with the way the city handles software and other IT projects and how it structures its Department of Innovation & Performance. Through a public records request and "copy and paste" sleuthing, PublicSource revealed details about how city cybersecurity and IT practices are lacking, potentially putting citizens and local government at risk.
The project documents the wide economic and academic disparities among school districts in Pennsylvania. It tells the stories through the voices of students and educators in under-resourced districts and takes a deep dive into how school funding in Pennsylvania creates a system of "haves and have-nots." It uses both print and multi-media display.
North America is now one of the biggest producers of crude oil in the world, partly because of fracking in North Dakota and other Western states. With a lack of pipelines in place to move the oil, much of it has been pushed onto the rails. Much of that oil is moved in tank cars found to spill their loads when accidents occur. With the increased traffic, accidents have piled up across North America. Refineries processing much of the crude from the Bakken formation in the West are in the Philadelphia area. In May, the federal government told the railroads to give that information to states where they shipped large quantities of crude. Many states made the information public, but Pennsylvania was one of the states that opted out, citing that the information was “confidential” and “proprietary” to railroads. The state emergency response agency denied our public records requests (as well as other news agencies requests) for the information. PublicSource wanted to show people where trains were traveling in Pittsburgh and the potential affected population living around those lines.