Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

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

Search results for "government contracts" ...

  • AJC: Atlanta City Hall Investigation

    Former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration illegally withheld public records from voters and City Council until The Atlanta Journal-Constitution forced them open, revealing $800,000 in improperly awarded employee bonuses and cash prizes, charges to city credit cards for personal entertainment and travel, and runaway spending on outside attorneys close to the mayor. The AJC also found that Reed withheld from the public and council the scope of the federal corruption investigation at City Hall, and concealed a six-figure settlement with an airport official who he fired and who later accused him of steering contracts.
  • The Profiteers

    The tale of the Bechtel family dynasty is a classic American business story. It begins with Warren A. “Dad” Bechtel, who led a consortium that constructed the Hoover Dam. From that auspicious start, the family and its eponymous company would go on to “build the world,” from the construction of airports in Hong Kong and Doha, to pipelines and tunnels in Alaska and Europe, to mining and energy operations around the globe. Today Bechtel is one of the largest privately held corporations in the world, enriched and empowered by a long history of government contracts and the privatization of public works, made possible by an unprecedented revolving door between its San Francisco headquarters and Washington. Bechtel executives John McCone, Caspar Weinberger, and George P. Shultz segued from leadership at the company to positions as Director of the CIA, Secretary of Defense, and Secretary of State, respectively. Like all stories of empire building, the rise of Bechtel presents a complex and riveting narrative. In The Profiteers, Sally Denton, whom The New York Times called “a wonderful writer,” exposes Bechtel’s secret world and one of the biggest business and political stories of our time.
  • The secret world of government debt collection

    CNNMoney’s report, The Secret World of Government Debt Collection, exposes an industry rife with political corruption, aggressive tactics and legal loopholes. In this world, forgotten tolls can snowball into hundreds of dollars in debt and unpaid speeding tickets can land people in jail. We found that thanks to legal exemptions, collectors working for government agencies typically don’t have to follow the main federal law that regulates the debt collection industry, and state consumer protection laws often don’t apply either. All of this opens the door for steep fees that other debt collectors couldn’t dream of charging, and allows them to threaten consequences as dire as arrest. The report focused on one of the industry’s biggest players, Texas-based law firm Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson. Through our reporting, we uncovered this little-known firm’s massive influence and controversial political ties. For example, Linebarger spends more on state lobbying than Texas giants Exxon and Halliburton, and it pours millions of dollars into political campaigns. It even has current elected officials on its payroll and has become entangled in multiple bribery scandals. CNNMoney discovered it is also currently linked to an ongoing FBI investigation. But Linebarger continues to rake in lucrative government contracts, making its top executives and founders rich while the debtors it goes after are left scrambling to pay its steep fees. And because firms like Linebarger are powered by government agencies, consumers are left with little recourse.
  • A "sting" buried

    The Philadelphia Inquirer triggered arrests, legislative reforms, ethics investigations, resignations – and political turmoil statewide – after the newspaper revealed that Pennsylvania’s attorney general had secretly shut down an undercover investigation that had caught public officials on tape taking money or gifts. In late 2013, state Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane secretly shut down a sting operation that had captured officials on tape accepting cash from an operative posing as a lobbyist ostensibly seeking political influence and government contracts. Her decision was kept from the public – restricted under court seal – for months until Inquirer reporters Craig R. McCoy and Angela Couloumbis broke the story. Their initial package sparked a statewide furor – and set the stage for months of additional investigative pieces and news developments.
  • Oheka Castle Shooting

    When Gary Melius was shot in the head in a botched assassination attempt on the grounds of the massive castle he calls home, the mysterious event led to a Newsday examination of the politically-connected real estate developer’s many business dealings. Using public records and on- and off-the-record sources, reporters in the weeks to come uncovered a labyrinth of intrigue surrounding one company in particular: Interceptor Ignition Interlocks, which produced devices designed to curtail drunk driving and had won lucrative government contracts. The series of stories immediately following the assassination attempt captured the attention of all of Long Island by revealing complex, meaningful and news-breaking exposés concerning Long Island’s power brokers and public officials.
  • Public Records Law Extended to Private Prison Firm

    This article describes the culmination of five years of litigation by our publication's managing editor against Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation's largest for-profit prison company. Although CCA provides services exclusively reserved to government agencies (i.e. the incarceration of criminal offenders), and is paid with public taxpayer funds through government contracts, the company refused to comply with our request for records filed under Tennessee's public records law. Thus, PLN's managing editor, Alex Friedmann, filed suit against CCA in 2008. The company fought tenaciously in court, arguing that as a private entity it was not subject to the public records law. After two trips to the TN Court of Appeals, the deposition of CCA's general counsel and a denial of review by the TN Supreme Court, Friedmann achieved victory in 2013 and established new case law requiring CCA to comply with public records requests because it is the functional equivalent of a government agency.
  • TN Court of Appeals Rules Against CCA for Second Time in PLN Public Records Case

    This article describes the culmination of five years of litigation by our publication's managing editor against Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation's largest for-profit prison company. Although CCA provides services exclusively reserved to government agencies (i.e. the incarceration of criminal offenders), and is paid with public taxpayer funds through government contracts, the company refused to comply with our request for records filed under Tennessee's public records law. Thus, PLN's managing editor, Alex Friedmann, filed suit against CCA in 2008. The company fought tenaciously in court, arguing that as a private entity it was not subject to the public records law. After two trips to the TN Court of Appeals, the deposition of CCA's general counsel and a denial of review by the TN Supreme Court, Friedmann achieved victory in 2013 and established new case law requiring CCA to comply with public records requests because it is the functional equivalent of a government agency.
  • Demoted to Private: America's Military Housing Disaster

    Political patronage, the zeal to privatize and a failure at background checks led to a disaster for taxpayers and military families in Pentagon housing programs in six states. All three branches of the service gave 8,000 military houses and billion-dollar contracts to a company headed by a politically-connected Texan involved in a messy bankruptcy and a Connecticut property management firm that had been previously suspended from HUD housing projects because it diverted millions to its own uses.
  • The Federal Contractor Misconduct Database

    The Federal Contractor Misconduct Database (FCMD) is a Web-based resource that tracks the civil, criminal, and administrative misconduct of the federal government's largest suppliers of goods and services. POGO created the FCMD to ensure that the hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars the federal government awards every year in contracts (over $530 billion in fiscal year 2008) go to companies with solid records of responsibility, integrity and performance. POGO developed the FCMD because government contracting officers are required by law to award contracts to responsible vendors only but lack a centralized repository of information on vendors' misconduct histories. To make decisions that are in the best interest of the public and prevent fraud, wasted and abuse, the government must have as much information as possible reflecting the past performance and responsibility of prospective vendors. The FCMD provides this information free to the public in a concise and user-friendly format. The FCMD spotlights each of the top 100 federal contractors. It complies each contractor's instances of misconduct -- actual and alleged -- dating back to 1995. In addition to misconduct instances, the FCMD includes primary source documents and links to the contractors' Web sites, annual reports, SEC filings, and lobbying and campaign finance information. Search and sort features allow users to search the data for key words, or to organize the data in interesting ways. The FCMD is an evolving resource. POGO continually adds and updates instances and contractor information. POGO also periodically updates the contractor list to reflect the most current fiscal year ranking. Each year, the roster of contractors will change, but POGO will keep all old rankings on a special archive page so that eventually the FCMD will include hundreds of contractors.
  • Off to Work We Go?

    KTRK-TV investigated the "work habits and use of campaign contributions by one of the state's most powerful public officials, Harris County Commissioner Jerry Eversole." They uncovered evidence that Eversole was "rarely working, and misusing campaign funds for personal use."