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 "regulation" ...

  • Deficient Hospices Rarely Punished

    After mining a database of inspection records, Huffington Post determined that hospices frequently go three years -- and sometimes much longer -- without any regulatory scrutiny. It also showed that when hospices break Medicare's rules, endangering the safety and even lives of their frail patients, they are virtually never punished. Medicare’s regulator has punished a hospice provider just 16 times in the last decade, despite carrying out 15,000 inspections and identifying more than 31,000 violations. In each instance, the hospice’s license was terminated -- the sole recourse for regulators when they confront a hospice that breaks the rules. The system of oversight designed to ensure sound practices in an industry that has quadrupled in size since 2000 simply has no means to assess fines or other punishments. The service, which at its best provides a caring, home-based alternative to hospitalization for terminally ill patients, is increasingly how Americans die. Yet virtually nothing is known about the quality of the companies providing that service. This story reveals to consumers those hospices that regulators have determined have the most problems -- and hopefully spurring government authorities to act.
  • Home Care Crisis

    The Columbus Dispatch examined Ohio’s preparedness for the shift to in-home care, which is rapidly replacing nursing homes and institutions as the preferred form of long-term care. They documented the industry’s tremendous, almost unchecked, growth in central Ohio, and showed how fraud, low wages and scant regulation jeopardize care and waste public health funds.
  • BOOM - North America's Explosive Oil-by-Rail Problem

    Emergency orders, safety alerts and sweeping regulatory proposals gave the public the sense that Washington responded appropriately after a train filled with North Dakota oil killed 47 and destroyed the small Quebec town of Lac-Megantic in July 2013—but the report shows that 18 months later little has changed and the regulatory process has failed. The story documents the extent to which the regulation of train cars is left almost entirely to the industry. And it matters now because of the massive increase in explosive cargo from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota. That fuel is rich in volatile natural gas liquids. If a railcar ruptures—and if some of the gas comes into contact with the outside air and a spark occurs—the railcar will explode and act as a blow torch on the car next to it. With each car carrying roughly 30,000 gallons of oil, a single, 100-car train can haul as much as 3 million gallons of oil. Among the key findings about the lack of federal regulation: not enough government inspectors; little oversight of railroad bridges; state and local governments can’t independently assess the condition of local rail infrastructure; and meager penalties.
  • The Politics of Big Telecom

    The largest U.S. telecommunications companies have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on lobbying, political contributions and influence campaigns that shape laws and regulations that will have long-lasting effects on how American businesses and citizens will pay for and get the online information they need to manage their everyday lives. For "The Politics of Big Telecom," the Center for Public Integrity combed through large databases of campaign finances, tax filings and regulatory reports, and interviewed dozens of people from top government officials to average people on the street to show how large telecommunications companies shape public policy to defend profits, hold on to market power and reduce choices for the public.
  • Peril in the Oil Patch

    Deaths in the oil fields reached a 10-year high nationwide in 2012, and the Houston Chronicle spent more than a year examining the carnage behind the nation’s oil and gas boom. A kick-off series published in February 2014 identified the most death-prone oil patch employers and explored why the government has failed to keep its promise to enact specific onshore drilling regulations and why, as a result, offshore workers receive more protections than those in states like Texas. The stories mined government reports, examined workers' comp insurance claims, profiled workers and their families and confronted Texas employers responsible for a disproportionate numbers of deaths. The newspaper went on to explore information on deaths in traffic accidents related to the oil boom that were published and aired in September 2014 in a collaboration that included radio reports by a reporter from Houston Public Media. With that partnership, the series reached far more oilfield workers and their families – who are based in far-flung areas throughout Texas. The final story in the Chronicle series, published in December, revealed how oilfield accidents are often under-reported nationwide – benefiting drilling companies who sometimes hide accidents to win contracts. The series included print stories, interactive maps and audio reports.
  • Restraints and Seclusion in Public Schools

    Public schoolchildren across the country were physically restrained or isolated in rooms they couldn’t leave at least 267,000 times in the 2011-2012 school year, despite a near-consensus that such practices are dangerous and have no therapeutic benefit. Many states have little regulation or oversight of such practices.
  • Pension Crisis

    Jacksonville’s Police and Fire Pension Fund is in crisis. The fund has about 43 cents available for every dollar promised to its retired police officers and fire fighters. Now $2.88 billion, the multiplying city debt is threatening the city’s financial stability. Bond ratings have been downgraded. City projects have been scuttled. Bankruptcy is feared. The recent recession isn’t the only thing that crippled the fund. Deals done in secret, deals hidden for more than a decade and sweetheart deals that allowed a select few to skirt regulations and retire from public service jobs with hundreds of thousands of extra dollars they weren’t entitled to are also to blame.
  • Boat Launch: Dark, Deadly and Unregulated

    A News Tribune investigation found that at least eight cars have plunged into the water at the Narrows Marina boat launch over the past 17 years. Four of 11 occupants were killed and another was left permanently disabled. The accidents involved many different types of people, and all the incidents involved similar conditions: Dark, rainy and high tide. Despite the deaths, the owner of the marina did little to improve safety at the boat launch and management even discouraged further media coverage of a rescue at the location. The News Tribune also found no local or state government regulations specific to boat launch facilities.
  • Up in flames

    This yearlong investigation examined the amount of natural gas flaring in the Eagle Ford shale formation south of San Antonio, and its impact on air quality and the lives of area residents. We were the first publication to use state records to show how much gas was being flared, and how much it was polluting the air. The major findings: the oil field was burning enough gas to fuel all of San Antonio for a full year, and the pollution exceeded that of six large oil refineries in Corpus Christi, Texas. We also found that the state failed to enforce regulations on some of the largest polluters, and that some of the companies flaring the most gas had never applied for permits. The state cited the companies based on our findings.
  • The pilots of Instagram

    David Yanofsky reports in these feature stories how commercial airline pilots are using cell phones and GoPro cameras to record the unique vantage offered to them in the cockpit, despite such activity violating company and industry safety regulations. Some commercial pilots were even found to be taking pictures during the most critical phases of flight—during takeoff and landing, when most airline accidents occur. There’s a vibrant online community that follows these pilots and their striking photos on Instagram, apparently encouraging them to continue despite the passenger safety risks. Follow-up stories detailed the virulent reactions of some in the pilot community to the initial feature, and provided a graphical representation of FAA regulations to further highlight the issue.