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 "open records request" ...

  • The Journal by KLC: Ogallala Aquifer

    This 7,000-word story by investigative reporter Karen Dillon outlines why it's so difficult for farmers, state officials and local governments to slow the depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer, a vital economic resource for western Kansas. It is based on water-use data acquired through a state open records request. The information helps illustrate the scale of aquifer's depletion and who is most responsible. The Journal is the first publication to our knowledge that has used public records to detail the 150 largest users of the aquifer's groundwater over the past 13 years. This list serves an important public interest since groundwater belongs to the people of Kansas under state law.
  • Imposter Nurses

    A months-long I-Team 8 investigation uncovered serious problems with Indiana's professional licensing system. Their stories exposed a system filled with weak internal controls and lax security that allowed for nurses' identities to be stolen. Through a series of open records requests, interviews with victims and old-fashioned gumshoe reporting, this investigative series exposed impostor nurses and questioned state officials. It also prompted the state to make sweeping changes to its online licensing system, which now provides increased security measures to more than 100,000 nurses in Indiana along with 30+ other professions overseen by the agency.
  • Historic Flood: Houston’s Emergency Response

    Within days of historic flooding that left 8 people dead and parts of Houston devastated, the KPRC investigative team began digging for answers on the city’s emergency response to the hardest hit areas. Our primary focus started with the deaths of 3 citizens who were thrown into raging flood waters when a fire department rescue boat capsized. Our Open Records Request for the boat’s maintenance logs and emergency communications during that rescue yielded a shocking discovery about how unprepared firefighters were for this severe weather event. https://youtu.be/nDKfvSiujpI
  • Payday California

    The most significant chunk of local budgets in California goes to pay government workers. Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting took on the task of gathering, examining and making public what we pay employees in California’s 58 counties and 482 incorporated cities. We created a website for that information, Payday California (payday.cironline.org), adding important context to the data collected by the California State Controller’s Office on as many as 700,000 city and county employees annually from 2009 through 2013. The website also features additional employee compensation records obtained through open records requests from the 10 largest counties and 10 largest cities in California. The data we requested from cities and counties was more detailed than that released by the state controller. It included employee names and more detailed pay categories. In addition, Reveal standardized job titles so that readers could better understand where their tax money was going. We also conducted statistical analyses to find communities that were clear outliers in how they paid employees.
  • State offices ignore freedom of information laws

    Through a comprehensive survey involving more than 80 state open records requests, the Press & Sun-Bulletin conducted a first-of-its-kind examination of compliance by New York's state agencies with part of the state Freedom of Information Law that is intended to let the public know what records are kept by various agencies. The newspaper documented 79 of 86 agencies, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office, were not complying with the law. The story led to immediate and ongoing corrective action.
  • Judge Minaldi arrest

    In January of 2014, an anonymous tip was called in to KPLC-TV about a U.S. District Judge who refused to stop her vehicle for officers in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The officers were called out on a complaint about an erratic driver. The judge was eventually stopped and given a ticket for an open container. The caller claimed there was more to the story and a cover-up was underway. After multiple requests to the Lake Charles Police Dept., a press release was issued stating that Judge Patricia Minaldi was cited for having an open container in her vehicle. Initial open records requests were denied, claiming an open investigation. Once Minaldi paid a fine in Lake Charles City Court, KPLC-TV journalists requested a recording of the 911 call that led to the traffic stop. Later, KPLC-TV was able to obtain dash cam video of the judge arguing with officers and resisting their demands to get out of her vehicle. Once KPLC-TV's reports aired, Judge Minaldi was charged with DUI First Offense and was sentenced to probation. They believe the added charges were the result of public pressure after these reports aired.
  • Austin Emergency Response Failures

    This series of investigative stories uncovered an overwhelmed 9-1-1 center staff during the deadly “Halloween Flood” of 2013 in Austin, Texas and triggered proposed changes to Austin’s 9-1-1 system. Open records requests returned 9-1-1 calls and emails showing the impact earlier cost-cutting decisions had the morning of the flood. The records we uncovered show the City of Austin was underprepared to respond to this overnight emergency and any others of its scale. The series morphed into an examination of the City of Austin’s 9-1-1 center and how years of neglect led to a controversial and unreported plan to save overtime. After the City of Austin released its final flood report and KXAN questioned the small number of recommendations, police leaders announced a 9-1-1 system audit. After KXAN reported a leaked draft, police amended a budget list of critical needs requesting 36 new 9-1-1 positions.
  • At Your Discretion: KCRA Investigates City Spending

    What if you were given permission to spend money however you wanted with little oversight? A KCRA investigation found that Sacramento's city council and mayor were given permission to do just that to the tune of millions of dollars through their elected terms. KCRA asked under the Public Records Act for discretionary spending accounts for the city of Sacramento's leaders. What we found instead was that the council and mayor have no line item budgeting. Instead they are given hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to spend on whatever they want, from personnel to face painting in the park.
  • Exposing Missouri's Secret Execution Drug Source

    For the past several months, St. Louis Public Radio's Chris McDaniel and Véronique LaCapra have been investigating Missouri's execution process and the legal and ethical questions around how the state is obtaining its execution drug. Since most drug manufacturers don’t want their products used for lethal injection, Missouri has had to go to great lengths to find a supply. In October, our reporting uncovered that the state had turned to an unauthorized distributor. Then, at the direction of Missouri’s Governor, the Department of Corrections switched to a different execution drug. But they didn’t stop there – they also changed the rules to make it illegal to reveal the source of the drug. After at least a dozen open records requests and numerous interviews with pharmacy experts, our investigation has revealed that the state is obtaining its drug from an Oklahoma compounding pharmacy that isn’t licensed in Missouri. Under normal circumstances, that could be a felony punishable by up to seven years in prison. Our reporting has led lawyers representing Missouri’s death row inmates to file a complaint with the Missouri Board of Pharmacy, demanding they stop the state from illegal importation of its execution drug. And several state lawmakers have called for an appointed commission to investigate the Department of Corrections, and for executions to be put on hold while the General Assembly looks into the issue.
  • Exposing Missouri's Secret Execution Drug Source

    For the past several months, St. Louis Public Radio's Chris McDaniel and Véronique LaCapra have been investigating Missouri's execution process and the legal and ethical questions around how the state is obtaining its execution drug. Since most drug manufacturers don’t want their products used for lethal injection, Missouri has had to go to great lengths to find a supply. In October, our reporting uncovered that the state had turned to an unauthorized distributor. Then, at the direction of Missouri’s Governor, the Department of Corrections switched to a different execution drug. But they didn’t stop there – they also changed the rules to make it illegal to reveal the source of the drug. After at least a dozen open records requests and numerous interviews with pharmacy experts, our investigation has revealed that the state is obtaining its drug from an Oklahoma compounding pharmacy that isn’t licensed in Missouri. Under normal circumstances, that could be a felony punishable by up to seven years in prison. Our reporting has led lawyers representing Missouri’s death row inmates to file a complaint with the Missouri Board of Pharmacy, demanding they stop the state from illegal importation of its execution drug. And several state lawmakers have called for an appointed commission to investigate the Department of Corrections, and for executions to be put on hold while the General Assembly looks into the issue.