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 "spending" ...

  • DeKalb County's Climate of Corruption

    This investigation revealed a local government teeming with corruption, including kickbacks and theft of taxpayer dollars. They exposed rampant spending with no oversight, first through the use of county purchasing cards, then with an invoice payment system that also lacked controls. Their investigation caught county officials spending their discretionary budgets on airline tickets, family vacations, gift cards, cell phone bills, high-end electronics and other personal expenses. One commissioner even paid a speeding ticket and funneled tens of thousands of dollars to her boyfriend. Their reporting led to an ongoing FBI investigation, a guilty plea from a longtime county official, and pending subpoenas that could yield even more indictments. County leaders have enacted new spending policies and strengthened their board of ethics.
  • CLOSING COSTS

    In an unprecedented move -- billed to cut costs -- Chicago Public Schools shut down 49 of their school buildings in the summer of 2013, leaving them vacant and abandoned. Late in the fall of 2013, NBC5 Investigates filed a FOIA request to see how much was still being spent on these empty buildings in utility costs. For months, CPS delayed and then ignored our FOIA request, and it ultimately took a lawsuit by NBC5 to finally get CPS to turn over the documents, They showed that taxpayers were spending nearly as much on utilities for these vacant buildings as they were when the schools were open. NBC5 Investigates also obtained secret CPS reports showing extensive vandalism at some abandoned schools, resulting in additional costs for taxpayers to repair the damage.
  • Dental Drama

    For nearly five years, the Texas Medicaid and Healthcare Partnership (TMHP), a subsidiary of Xerox, allowed workers with limited expertise to approve dental claims for Texas’ Medicaid program, the joint state-federal insurer of poor children. State spending on orthodontic services spiraled out of control: Between 2003 and 2010, Texas Medicaid payments for orthodontic services grew by more than 3,000 percent — from $6.5 million to $220.5 million — while program enrollment only grew 33 percent. Our investigation found that three years later, the state’s aggressive campaign to recover misspent Medicaid dollars had failed to prove any dental providers intentionally committed fraud. Meanwhile, the state maintained its contract with TMHP, and continued to pay the company between $168 and $185 million annually to continue processing certain Texas Medicaid claims.
  • Broken Bond

    Shawn Hoder (Senior Investigative Producer) and Catherine Beck (Investigative Reporter) of WXIA 11Alive team up to investigate Atlanta City Councilman Michael Julian Bond, who had aspirations of running for Mayor in the next election. That road may prove far more difficult after our nearly year-long investigation questioned his unethical spending habits and waste of tax dollars, revelations that caused Atlanta’s ethics department to investigate and later file a formal complaint against him.
  • Holding Officials Accountable

    “Holding Officials Accountable” focuses on four separate WVUE investigations. Our investigative team’s extensive research drove each of these series and uncovered questionable - and in two instances illegal - spending of hundreds of thousands in taxpayer dollars. The investigations held officials accountable by asking tough questions and pushing for answers that launched federal and state investigations and led to two separate corruption charges. Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3NSAFpEfsc&feature=youtu.be
  • Legislative Spending

    The Morning Call created Pennsylvania’s first-ever map-based online database that sheds a light on how the state’s 253 lawmakers spent at least $13.8 million in taxpayer money in 2013. The result of The Morning Call’s efforts, Watchdog Report: Legislative Spending, published in three stories and accompanied by online maps and records, is nothing short of a virtual audit. It is the only place taxpayers – and lawmakers themselves -- can go to see how 203 representatives and 50 senators spent money because the Legislature has never done a similar in-depth audit. The stories and database allows users to compare how much lawmakers spent on anything they want, from office rents to meals to hotels to a private consultant who promoted a lawmaker’s acting gig. With such leeway and latitude, it’s easy to see why the Legislature wants to keep spending records from the public eye.
  • 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.
  • The Medicare Advantage Money Grab

    This is the first comprehensive effort by a media organization to analyze how government pays for Medicare Advantage, which costs taxpayers some $150 billion a year as it grows explosively. We found that rather than slow health-care spending, as intended, Medicare Advantage plans for the elderly have sharply driven up treatment costs in some parts of the United States—larding on tens of billions of dollars in overcharges and other suspect billings over the past five years alone. The findings are based on an analysis of Medicare Advantage enrollment and billing data as well as thousands of pages of government audits, research papers and other documents, and scores of interviews with industry executives. Our review revealed how an obscure billing formula called a “risk score,” that is supposed to pay Medicare Advantage plans more for sicker patients and less for healthy ones, has been widely abused to inflate Medicare costs.
  • Just sign here: Federal workers max out at taxpayers' expense

    FMCS is a tiny independent federal agency whose director's first order of business was to use federal funds to buy artwork from his own wife, $200 coasters and champagne. The agency paid $85,000 to the phantom company of a just-retired official for no services; spent $50,000 at a jewelry store, supposedly on picture frames to give its 200 employees "tenure awards;" and leased its people $53,000 cars. Large portions of its employees routinely used government credit cards for clearly personal items after merely requesting to have them “unblocked” from restricted items, according to 50,000 pages of internal documents obtained by the Washington Examiner--raising questions about purchase card use in other agencies. Federal employees were charging cell phones for their whole families and cable TV at not just their homes, but their vacation homes too, to the government. Its IT director has had hundreds of thousands of dollars of high-end electronics delivered to his home in West Virginia, and there is no record of many of those items being tracked to federal offices. Many other items billed are highly suspect, such as $500 for single USB thumb drives that retail for $20. Virtually all of its spending circumvented federal procurement laws. When employees pointed out rulebreaking, Director George Cohen forced one accountant to write a letter to the GSA retracting her complaint, had another top employee walked out by armed guards, and fired another whistleblower, a disabled veteran, for missing a day of work while she laid in the ICU. At an agency the size of FMCS, where corruption went to the top, there were no higher levels to appeal to, no Inspector General, and--previously--no press attention.
  • Mello-Roos: The tax you choose

    This multi-media, interactive series is about a special tax Californians pay without thought or question. It amassed $200 million last year in San Diego County. There are loose spending guidelines, but it is a virtual ATM for local governments. The Mello-Roos tax -- named after the two legislators who created it -- takes a vote of one person, most often a developer, to enact. Accountability is almost nonexistent. inewsource spent a year peeling back the layers of Mello-Roos in a way that had not been done in the 30 years that the tax existed. We gathered tax data on nearly one million properties in San Diego County, mapped it and made it interactive so homeowners could participate in the quest for accountability. We pored through thousands of pages of invoices to follow the spending. We filed dozens of public records requests. Our investigation revealed mistakes in tax bills (some homeowners paying as much as $6,000 a year too much), systemic inequities and lack of oversight. Our work launched a city audit (ongoing), exposed a school district’s inappropriate use of funds, and prompted that same district to launch a website for homeowners so they could verify the accuracy of their tax bills. Most importantly, the series spurred homeowners to take action, demanding answers and transparency from their elected officials.