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 "economy" ...

  • TEMP LAND: Working in the new economy

    Temp employment is climbing to record levels following the Great Recession. The system benefits brand-name companies but harms American workers through lost wages, high injury rates, few if any benefits, and little opportunity for advancement.
  • 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.
  • Panama: Dam Promises or Dam Lies?

    Panama is embracing its role as one of Latin America’s fastest growing economy by undertaking massive infrastructure projects, such as the expansion of the Panama Canal and a metro in Panama City. However, as these projects develop Panama is on the brink of exceeding their electricity capacity. To address the national crisis the country is investing in the Barro Blanco hydroelectric dam in Western Panama. The completion of the dam is expected to result in cheaper and more sustainable energy by reducing dependence on fossil fuels. However, not everybody is optimistic about the prospects of the dam. Standing in the way of the project is Panama’s largest indigenous group, the Ngäbe-Buglé. Even though the dam is not being built inside their semi-autonomous region, they say its reservoir threatens their way of life.
  • Free Pass

    No one likes a parking ticket. But in Seattle parking citations became more unpopular in 2011 when the city raised its street parking rates to among the highest in the country and unleashed an army of enforcement officers to paper windshield’s all over the Emerald City in what many citizens saw as a money grab in a poor economy. KING 5’s investigation into whether the program was operating in an even-handed fashion uncovered the top violators who were not paying their tickets. We revealed a program that was cracking down on many average citizens while giving a free pass to a select group of politically connected, billion-dollar businesses. In the wake of KING 5’s reporting, the city came up with a simple fix that could generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional revenue from chronic violators. Also, several state-lawmakers pledged to sponsor bills to erase state laws that give big companies favorable treatment.
  • As OSHA Emphasizes Safety, Long-Term Health Risks Fester

    For years, Sheri Farley worked in a cushion-making factory. Spray-gun in hand, she stood enveloped in a yellowish fog, breathing glue fumes that ate away at her nerve endings. “Dead foot” set in. She walked with a limp, then a cane, then she didn't walk much at all. “Part of the job,” was the shrugging response from her managers. This article was the first to reveal how the furniture industry used a dangerous chemical called nPB despite urgent warnings from the companies that manufactured it. The story also described egregious behavior by a small cushion-making company in North Carolina called Royale Comfort Seating, where Ms. Farley worked. The piece spotlighted the consequences of OSHA's failure to police long-term health risks and how efforts to control one chemical left workers exposed to something worse. Workplace illnesses like Ms. Farley's affect more than 200,000 Americans per year and cost our economy more than $250 billion annually. The agency responsible for ensuring that Americans can breathe clean air on the job focuses primarily on deadly accidents. But ten times as many people die from inhaling toxic substances at work.
  • Sick Time, Your Dime

    When we learned many government employees are paid out for unused sick time upon retirement, we wanted to know how much was paid out. We filed FOIA's seeking data for three years from the city, county and state. Considering the state of economy and agencies in all levels of government eliminating positions and laying workers off, why is government paying millions of dollars to people no longer working in government? This is also a benefit virtually unheard of in the private sector.
  • iEconomy

    By almost any measure, Apple is one of the most successful and revered companies in the world. Its wildly popular products have changed how we live, work and play, and have made it the world’s most valuable company as measured by stock value. It is a symbol of American ingenuity and innovation. But the price of Apple’s success and its broader implications have never been closely scrutinized. In “The iEconomy” series, The New York Times showed that the carefully cultivated public image of Apple was often at odds with the company’s reality. Apple’s success, like that of so many firms in the growing information-technology economy, has come at a cost, a team of Times reporters found.
  • Unfulfilled Promise

    When the NextGen Aviation Research and Technology Park was first announced in 2005, it brought with it hopes for diversifying Atlantic City region's casino dependent economy with the promise of 2,000 high-paying engineering jobs. The series of stories produced by The Press of Atlantic City showed that the project's expectations had been grossly overstated and several opportunities for progress were squandered while political interests kept the project afloat. Subsequent investigations revealed that a quasi-governmental agency at the forefront of the project had fallen into significant debt and stopped completing audits. Meanwhile, the agency's leader continued to receive significant raises without required board approval.
  • NextGen Aviation Research

    When the NextGen Aviation Research and Technology Park was first announced in 2005, it brought with it hopes for diversifying Atlantic City region's casino dependent economy with the promise of 2,000 high-paying engineering jobs. The series of stories produced by The Press of Atlantic City showed that the project's expectations had been grossly overstated and several opportunities for progress were squandered while political interests kept the project afloat. Subsequent investigations revealed that a quasi-governmental agency at the forefront of the project had fallen into significant debt and stopped completing audits. Meanwhile, the agency's leader continued to receive significant raises without required board approval.