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 "surplus" ...

  • To Build a Home: The Navajo Housing Tragedy

    Arizona Republic staffers Craig Harris, Dennis Wagner and Michael Chow spent more than a year examining how one tribe - the Navajo Nation - could receive more than $1 billion in federal funds for homes, yet have a massive housing crisis amid a generation of wasteful spending, construction blunders and a stockpiling of funds.
  • Tijuana Tire Valley

    In an investigation that took us across the border, we explored the failure of the California state government to properly allocate funds collected from a consumer fee to prevent severe pollution of a bi-national region. We discovered California recycling fees were being used to ship tires to the border where they are sold and resold in Mexico; until the tires eventually wash back into environmentally sensitive lands in the United States. NBC7 Investigates uncovered a ballooning $60 million state "tire recycling management fund" that has since been targeted for better use by the Speaker of the Assembly. We followed tires from the California tire store to the border to deeper into Mexico to Tijuana, where tires are in such surplus they have become a fixture of architecture.
  • The Pentagon Finally Details its Weapons-for-Cops Giveaway

    The Marshall Project, in collaboration with MuckRock, published, for the first time, agency-level data on the Pentagon's 1033 program, a program brought to light during the protests in Ferguson, Mo., in which the Pentagon gives surplus weapons, aircraft and vehicles to law enforcement agencies. We wrote an initial story on the data, created an easy-to-use, embeddable widget, and put together a "Department of Defense gift guide," highlighting some of the more perplexing giveaways. The story led to unprecedented public scrutiny of military equipment going to law enforcement agencies, as over forty local news outlets published articles detailing what their local cops had received.
  • Charter School Investigation

    Charter schools were created to bring educational innovation. Instead, some operators used the schools for private gain. Findings of this Philadelphia Inquirer series include high salaries that surpassed what was paid to district superintendents; operators collecting multiple salaries; operators hiring unqualified family members at high salaries; operators creating other entities to do business with the charter so they could collect additional funds; operators acting as charter school landlords and using the money to buy property for other businesses; operators running a charter through a for-profit company that gets all revenue and keeps the surplus.
  • In Their Dust

    The Baltimore Sun discovered that unbeknownst to state regulators and legislators, non-profit hospitals were suing tens of thousands of patients in local courts over unpaid bills even though those bills were covered through the rate-setting system. Some of the hospitals that filed the most lawsuits were also collecting consistent surpluses on unpaid and charity care through the rate-setting formula, something that the rate-setting commission could not explain. Patients were often railroaded through the legal system. And hospitals violated state laws or contracts with insurance companies by suing patients for amounts they were not permitted to collect.
  • Hurricane Giveaway

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)kept tens of millions of dollars worth of new household supplies meant for Katrina victims stored in FEMA warehouses for two years. In early 2008, the agency decided the items were no longer needed and declared them surplus, even though agencies that help hurricane victims told CNN they desperately needed those types of items. The supplies ended up with federal and state agencies, but not Katrina victims. The investigation revealed the groups that are helping rehouse Katrina victims did not know these items existed. Furthermore, CNN discovered a serious disconnect between FEMA and the states, as well as within states themselves. Louisiana's surplus agency passed on taking any of the surplus items because the director said he was never told they were still needed. Mississippi, on the other hand, took the supplies and gave them to state prisons and other agencies, but not to non-profits helping Katrina victims. Those non-profits told CNN they never knew these items were available.
  • Is tax-exempt LVH sharing enough of its wealth?

    The Lehigh Valley Hospital built up a record $76 million surplus in 2005, but is doing little to give back to the community.
  • The politics of meth

    The Oregonian found that Mexico has allowed drug companies to import twice as much pseudoephedrine as they need to produce cold medicines, and that the surplus is feeding a massive increase in methamphetamine production by drug cartels. Mexican cartels remain the dominant source of meth in the United States, and U.S. officials have failed to curb the cartels' access to pseudoephedrine. The supply of meth is now at a near-record high, addiction is unabated and the purity of meth has doubled since 1999, reaching its highest level in a decade.
  • The PERA Puzzle

    The Rocky Mountain News reveals how at a time when Colorado's Public Employees' Retirement Association went from a surplus to drastic underfunding jeopardizing its members' retirement, the staff and board ensured their own retirement security and financial health through generous perks and an extensive travel policy.
  • Joy of Overfunding: Companies Reap a Gain Off Fat Pension Plans

    The Wall Street Journal examined how companies have been using their overfunded pension plans to increase profits, rather than pass on the benefits to its workers. "One might think that for employees, the overfunding of [pension] plans would be good news; there would be at least a chance that the company would improve their benefits. But in fact, the incentives for companies are quite different," finds the Journal. Instead, "while no company ever cites profits as a reason for a pension switch, many companies with overfunded pension plans are changing their plans, frequently with the result that future benefits become less generous." The reason for this was rooted in "an accounting rule change" dating back to 1987 that required companies to start recognizing pensions on their income statements as liabilities. But when the unexpected happened, and the stock market boomed -- the result was "the birth of some gargantuan pension-plan surpluses." Greed took over from there.