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 "spending" ...

  • The Austerity Audit

    In 2013, the United Kingdom began its most radical welfare reform in a generation – a government program to severely reduce spending on working-age benefit payments. The Financial Times saw an opportunity to illustrate a human and economic drama and through data analysis, it revealed an estimated loss of £19bn a year in annual welfare payments that could disrupt families, communities and businesses across the UK. The FT Austerity Audit was the first media investigation to explore and evaluate the economic and business consequences of the historic welfare reforms. Guided by exclusive data research that revealed a wide variation in the impact of the cuts, FT reporters fanned out across Britain to produce a startling analysis that generated heated debate: some northern towns and cities would be hit five-times as hard as suburban southern counties. The FT published an ambitious, two-day series that generated buzz across social media and much debate in the UK political sphere. Its story-telling was innovative and expansive – with interactive graphics, video, photography and text combined in a custom-designed website. The interactive map was rich in detail and both easy and exciting to use.
  • Free The Files

    To learn more about how dark money groups spent the money they were secretly raising, ProPublica launched the “Free the Files” project. First, we enlisted volunteers to gather files from local TV stations detailing political ad buys and share them with us to release online. These records, previously available only on paper to people who visited the stations in person, provided details about spending often not included in the groups’ reports to election authorities. The FCC later ordered some stations to put ad buy data online, but the jumble of documents posted could not be digitally searched. To make the information useful, ProPublica created a news application that showed volunteers how to sort the records by market, amount and -- most critically -- by candidate or group. More than 1,000 people helped us create a database that logged up to $1 billion in ads. Tapping this data, ProPublica reporters were able to show how massive infusions of dark money influenced races in Ohio and New Mexico.
  • The battle for V.I. Senate spending records

    The Virgin Islands Daily News battled the Virgin Islands Senate via FOI requests, numerous stories and editorials, and we finally had to file a lawsuit against the legislative body – at a cost of more than $20,000 to our under-10,000 circulation newspaper – before winning access to thousands of records of the senators' spending. As a result, several senators chose not to run for reelection, several were not reelected and the rest have made loud and public pledges of total transparency. The newspaper's scrutiny and reporting on the misuse of public money – as revealed in the documents we obtained – is ongoing.
  • University President Syndrome

    An investigation into alleged misspending by the president of a prestigious medical school in Dallas.
  • Inside the Matrix

    The National Security Agency is America’s largest, most costly, and by far most secret intelligence agency. Because its mandate is to eavesdrop on all forms of communications, from email messages to cell phones calls to Google searches to Tweets, it is also the agency that poses the greatest potential harm to the privacy of American citizens. What few outside the intelligence community knew, until Wired’s April cover story, was just how much private data the agency was collecting, where they would store it all, how they would analyze it, and how much of a threat this capability posed to Americans. In the article I describe the agency’s hidden growth over the past decade, spending tens of billions of dollars on new eavesdropping centers around the county, in Georgia, Texas, Colorado and Hawaii. Most importantly, I focused on the final piece in that complex technological puzzle, a gargantuan and highly secret facility where all of that intercepted communications would be stored and analyzed. At a million square feet, the Bluffdale, Utah center could potentially hold up to a yottabyte of data, somewhere around 500 quintillion (500,000,000,000,000,000,000) pages of text, much of that communications to and from American citizens. I also revealed for the first time the NSA’s highly secret new supercomputer complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. To analyze the mountains of data in the Bluffdale center, much of it encrypted, the agency’s Oak Ridge scientists are working on a computer designed to operate at zetaflop speeds – a billion billion operations a second. Thus, the article outlines for the first time the NSA's growing -- and increasingly dangerous -- eavesdropping capabilities.
  • Big Money in Non-cash Donations

    The overvaluation of non-cash donations such as medicine, food, and medical supplies can often lead to charities inflating revenues and appearing to be spending more on their programs than on administrative expenses such as salaries and benefits. Donors giving to a good cause are largely unaware of such overvaluations, especially when a charity's claim of having "delivered $450 million worth of food and medicine" is the type of success that has lured their donation in the first place. Often, however, that claim of $450 million "worth" of goods is a very generous estimate based on valuations that can be difficult to disprove. The Chronicle of Philanthropy publishes a list of the nation's top 400 charities each year and decided to take a closer look at nonprofits whose revenues are predominantly comprised of such non-cash donations, called "gifts in kind," that regulators are beginning to take a closer look at because of how easily they can be overvalued. We had hoped to find a story that would highlight this element of revenue reporting in order to inform donors, alert charities, and put regulators on notice since enforcement is so lax in this particular area. Our reporting led to a charity subtracting $250 million of revenues from its books and dismissing the consultant it had hired specifically to secure non-cash donations.
  • Follow the Unlimited Money

    The Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group tracked the outside spending by groups unleashed by the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, and made it easier for others to Follow the Unlimited Money as well. The centerpiece of the effort was an online database that tracked, in real time, the latest data released by the Federal Election Commission on super PACs, nonprofits, labor unions and other groups that spent money to influence elections. Our in house team of reporters used data from the database to break stories and write in-depth pieces; we also made the database publicly available on the Web and helped hundreds of journalists use it, running the gamut from major television networks such as CBS and MSNBC to newer media entrants such as Gawker and BuzzFeed and numerous local outlets. The database and the reporting derived from it provided information on outside spending groups--including super PACs and the donors that funded them and the nonprofits that don’t disclose donors--and the races they tried to influence.
  • Leadership problems at Florida State College at Jacksonville

    Through public records requests, we forced the release of several documents Florida State College at Jacksonville sought to withhold: the wrongdoing investigation of a top executive who was also a VP at a college in New Jersey, and the five-figure bonuses given annually to most of the college's top brass. We also used Florida's public records laws to get expense reports and emails that showed little oversight on spending and infighting among board members divided over what action to take. Board members for the most part had little public discussion about their votes. Our reporting on the expenses, possible Sunshine violations and problems in the college's awarding of financial aid led to two state investigations into the college's foundation spending and overall finances.
  • Locked Out

    The Oregonian spent six months investigating the location of subsidized housing in the Portland area and related failures under the nation's Fair Housing Act. Although the federal law was supposed to fight housing discrimination and end segregation, the newspaper found that investments controlled and funded by government have often been in the region's poorest neighborhoods and areas with high minority concentrations. Because people of color often have a greater need for subsidized housing, these spending decisions reinforce and perpetuate segregation in a largely white metro area.
  • United in Largesse

    United in Largesse is about extravagant spending and lack of accountability in the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers union, which has its headquarters in Kansas City, Kan. The Kansas City Star found that the union president’s salary and expenses far topped those of the presidents of the country’s largest unions and that the union had hired numerous officers’ relatives at robust salaries. The story also showed that union officials traveled by charter or first class to attractive destinations, squandered money on exclusive pheasant-hunting expeditions and Alaskan fly-fishing adventures and gave expensive cars as gifts to retiring officers. The Star also raised serious questions about conflicts of interest involving union pension fund trustees.