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 [email protected] where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "contracts" ...

  • NC superintendents’ contracts packed with perks

    I requested the contracts of all 115 public school superintendents in North Carolina and found that their six-figure salaries aren’t the only way they are compensated. Many receive thousands of dollars in bonuses each year, and some get special perks, such as cars, gym memberships, money for mortgage payments and extra vacation time. The contracts also revealed the lengths school boards were willing to go to get or keep a superintendent, including one school system that agreed to provide its new leader with a house and install a nearly $4,300 fence for her dogs – paid for with taxpayer money.
  • "Adams County: Exposing a Culture of Corruption"

    This KMGH-TV investigation that began with uncovering of millions of dollars in no-bid contracts in exchange for gifts and free construction and landscape work at the homes of top county officials, has resulted in the convictions of those officials and the owner and employees of a county subcontractor for cheating taxpayers out of millions of dollars. The investigation spanned five years and prompted a fundamental change in county government and reforms in policies, procedures, and the county charter through voter referendum to insure transparency and best practice. We believe this long term investigation represents the important role journalists play in representing the citizenry, holding government accountable through in-depth reporting, and prompting significant structural change for the long term benefit of the community.
  • Biggest of the Smalls: The Rise of a Federal Contractor

    In the last decade, the federal government has made an unprecedented push to direct work to small businesses in order to help such firms gain a foothold in the U.S. economy. The amount of money devoted to small business contracting rose 70 percent to $90 billion annually during that period. In this tide of spending, one firm stood out as the paragon of success: MicroTechnologies LLC. Records show it received $1.4 billion in federal technology deals over nine years, much of it reserved for small firms own by minority and service-disabled veteran entrepreneurs. MicroTech became the fastest growing small contractor in the nation. Founder Anthony R. Jimenez, declared it to be the "Biggest of the Smalls." Those deals transformed Jimenez's lifestyle. He bought a mansion -- and then commissioned a quarter-million entertainment system for it. He began driving a $190,000 Mercedes coupe. And he became a top sponsor of multiple martial arts "cage fighting," routinely flying to Las Vegas at company expense. “I am living the American Dream,” he said in a letter to The Washington Post. But MicroTech's extraordinary ascent begged a simple-seeming question: How could such a large company still be eligible to receive contracts set aside for small firms? Until The Post's Robert O'Harrow Jr. dug in, no one in the media or government knew the answer or bothered to check. O'Harrow pushed ahead the old fashioned way: he issued Freedom of Information Act Requests for contracting documents and demanded government officials open their files. His investigation found that MicroTech had misled the government and the public about its ownership and operations to get access to preferential contracts and burnish its own image. In doing so, the firm abused taxpayers and deprived other small firms access to hundreds of million in deals. In response to those findings, the government suspended MicroTech from contracting and changed some contracting rules. Two inspectors general offices are investigating and Congress has launched its own probes.
  • Biggest of the Smalls: The Rise of a Federal Contractor

    In the last decade, the federal government has made an unprecedented push to direct work to small businesses in order to help such firms gain a foothold in the U.S. economy. The amount of money devoted to small business contracting rose 70 percent to $90 billion annually during that period. In this tide of spending, one firm stood out as the paragon of success: MicroTechnologies LLC. Records show it received $1.4 billion in federal technology deals over nine years, much of it reserved for small firms own by minority and service-disabled veteran entrepreneurs. MicroTech became the fastest growing small contractor in the nation. Founder Anthony R. Jimenez, declared it to be the "Biggest of the Smalls." Those deals transformed Jimenez's lifestyle. He bought a mansion -- and then commissioned a quarter-million entertainment system for it. He began driving a $190,000 Mercedes coupe. And he became a top sponsor of multiple martial arts "cage fighting," routinely flying to Las Vegas at company expense. “I am living the American Dream,” he said in a letter to The Washington Post. But MicroTech's extraordinary ascent begged a simple-seeming question: How could such a large company still be eligible to receive contracts set aside for small firms? Until The Post's Robert O'Harrow Jr. dug in, no one in the media or government knew the answer or bothered to check. O'Harrow's investigation found that MicroTech had misled the government and the public about its ownership and operations to get access to preferential contracts and burnish its own image. In doing so, the firm abused taxpayers and deprived other small firms access to hundreds of million in deals. In response to those findings, the government suspended MicroTech from contracting and changed some contracting rules. Two inspectors general offices are investigating and Congress has launched its own probes.
  • 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.
  • Questions of Influence

    This year-long investigation exposed how Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s pledge to “run state government like a business” led to some serious ethical shortcomings, including the awarding of tens of millions of dollars in questionable state contracts and a blurring of the lines with a prominent Capitol Hill lobbyist who was on the governor’s personal payroll. The one-hour, prime-time special is the culmination of more than three dozen individual stories that aired throughout the year. Our investigation led to a statewide political debate, legislative hearings, ethics complaints, a scathing state audit, reconsideration of millions of dollars in state contracts and calls for ethics reform that are continuing.
  • 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.
  • California's Deloitte Dilemma: The Politics of Programming and Public Contracts. A KCRA Investigation

    When payments for California's unemployed were delayed after a computer upgrade, KCRA began digging into the cause of the delay. What reporter Sharokina Shams and producer Dave Manoucheri found was a state agency that was downplaying the problems with their new computer system and grossly under-reporting the number of people affected. Utilizing California Public Records Act requests (similar to FOIA) and whistleblowers inside the department, KCRA exposed the fact that California had purchased a computer system plagued with problems. Within a week they had determined that multiple states had hired the same company, Deloitte, LLC, and those states were experiencing similar problems. With more digging Shams and Manoucheri found that Deloitte had also donated hundreds of thousands to political campaigns and lobbied heavily with the state. KCRA found hundreds of millions paid to the company for IT contracts, failed previous projects and a new contract due to be awarded that would costs half a billion dollars. Ultimately, KCRA's investigation led to legislative hearings, the creation of legislation to change how the state writes IT contracts, and revealed that more than 40 states are waiting in the wings to upgrade their computer systems and the federal Department of Labor anticipates similar problems in all those states.
  • Our Money, Their Failures

    A six-week investigation by The Virgin Islands Daily News into the people and the money connected to the U.S. Virgin Islands governor's proposal for a $55 million sports complex. The investigative report was published on one day across 11 pages and achieved the result of stopping the project and forcing the governor to pledge no further contracts without vetting the principals. In the case of the sports complex that the governor and some V.I. senators were trying to push through, the investigation uncovered misrepresentations and a string of financial failures by a number of the private parties in the deal with the governor.
  • Leadership problems at Florida State College at Jacksonville

    What started as a look at problems in the financial aid department led to a widespread review of college operational issues and spending that angered taxpayers and frustrated students. Through several months of reviewing records and rooting out sources, we found that the college had almost no controls on the president's spending and the board offered little oversight. We learned that this was common throughout the state after we reviewed all presidential contracts in Florida - and found lots of big-money perks. Our stories prompted two consulting reviews by the college and two statewide investigations, one from the inspector general into the president's spending and a second from the Florida College System into FSCJ's finances. The president and two other top-level leaders left the college, and reforms are expected from the Legislature this year.