Reports on Good Government

The reports below represent a sample of Frontier Group’s work on Good Government. For more of our reports on this and related topics, please visit www.PolicyArchive.org. Full archive coming soon.

Following the Money 2017 - Governing in the Shadows: Rating the Online Financial Transparency of Special District Governments

“Special districts” are a type of government agency that exist outside of traditional forms of general purpose local or state governments, and serve key governmental functions such as public transit or housing. A review of 79 special districts’ online financial transparency shows that while a few districts are meeting the goals of “Transparency 2.0” – a standard of comprehensive, one-stop, one-click budget accountability and accessibility – the vast majority do little to inform citizens about how they spend money. 

(April 2017)
Highway Boondoggles 3: Big Projects. Bigger Price Tags. Limited Benefits.

America spends tens of billions of dollars each year on wasteful highway projects that are unnecessary or damaging to our communities - even as crying needs for road maintenance and better transportation options go unmet. Highway Boondoggles 3 examines nine dubious highway projects from around the country, costing more than $10 billion, that will do little to address real transportation needs.

(April 2017)
Blocking the Sun: Utilities and Fossil Fuel Interests That Are Undermining American Solar Power - 2016 Edition

Behind the scenes, electric utilities, fossil fuel interests and powerful industry front groups have begun chipping away at the key policies that have put solar energy on the map in the United States – often in the face of strong objections from a supportive public.

(December 2016)
Path to the Polls: Building a More Inclusive Democracy by Preregistering California's Youth

Starting in the fall of 2016, 16- and 17-year-olds in California will be allowed to “preregister” to vote, ensuring that they are listed on the voter rolls the moment they turn 18. Voter preregistration provides California with an opportunity to improve young voter participation, but state and local officials must take proactive steps in order to make preregistration a success.

(September 2016)
Following the Money in New Jersey Cities: Online Budget Transparency in Local Government

Municipalities across the country have been moving toward making their checkbooks easily accessible to the public by posting government spending information through on-line transparency portals. Yet, none of New Jersey’s 15 most populous municipalities – which are home to 20 percent of the state’s population and spend more than $3 billion in public funds every year – has an online open checkbook that meets modern standards of government transparency.

(September 2016)
Following the Money 2016: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data

State governments spend hundreds of billions of dollars each year through contracts for goods and services, subsidies to encourage economic development, and other expenditures. Public accountability helps ensure that state funds are spent as wisely as possible. Following the Money 2016 is the seventh annual evaluation of state transparency websites. It finds that states continue to make progress toward comprehensive, one-stop, one-click transparency and accountability for state government spending.

(April 2016)
Following the Money 2015: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data

The ability to see how government uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy. State governments across the country have made their checkbooks transparent by creating online transparency portals – government-operated websites that allow visitors to see who receives state money and for what purposes. Following the Money 2015, our sixth annual ranking of states' progress toward online spending transparency, documents the progress states have made in the past year in empowering citizens to track state spending.

(March 2015)
Following the Money 2014: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data

The ability to see how government uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy. State governments across the country have made their checkbooks transparent by creating online transparency portals – government-operated websites that allow visitors to see who receives state money and for what purposes. Following the Money 2014, our fifth annual ranking of states' progress toward online spending transparency, documents the progress states have made in the past year in empowering citizens to track state spending.

(April 2014)
Following the Money 2013: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data

The ability to see how government uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy. State governments across the country have made their checkbooks transparent by creating online transparency portals – government-operated websites that allow visitors to see who receives state money and for what purposes. Following the Money 2013, our fourth annual ranking of states' progress toward online spending transparency, documents the progress states have made in the past year in empowering citizens to track state spending.

(March 2013)
Getting Our Money's Worth?: Promoting Transparency and Accountability for Corporate Tax Subsidies in Massachusetts

The people of Massachusetts deserve to know how their tax dollars are spent, including on tax subsidies for businesses. Unfortunately, the Commonwealth provides only limited transparency and accountability for spending through the tax code in the form of “special business tax subsidies.” Getting Our Money’s Worth? identifies where Massachusetts is falling short and the steps it can take to ensure Bay Staters are getting the most bang for their buck from business tax subsidies. (March 2013)

(March 2013)
The Hidden Cost of Offshore Tax Havens: State Budgets Under Pressure from Tax Loophole Abuse

When U.S. corporations and wealthy individuals use offshore tax havens to avoid paying taxes to the government, it is an abuse of our tax system. Tax haven abusers benefit from our markets, infrastructure, educated workforce, and security, but they pay next to nothing for these benefits. Tax haven abuse by corporations and wealthy individuals costs the federal government $150 billion in lost revenues each year, and state governments lose billions, as well. In this report, we estimate the tax revenues lost to state governments through the use of offshore tax havens each year and suggest policies to help state governments reduce the fiscal impact of offshore tax havens on their budgets.

(February 2013)
Transparency in City Spending: Rating the Availability of Online Government Data in America's Largest Cities

The ability to see how government uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy. Transparency in government spending checks corruptions, bolsters public confidence, improves responsiveness, and promotes greater effectiveness and fiscal responsibility. Transparency in City Spending rates the progress of America's most populous cities toward making their checkbooks transparent and posting recipient-specific spending data online.

(January 2013)
Shining a Light on the Arizona Commerce Authority: The Need for Stronger Transparency and Accountability Standards at the State's Economic Development Corporation

Arizonans deserve to know how their taxpayer dollars are spent - including when their tax dollars are given as subsidies to corporations. However,  the Arizona Commerce Authority - the new state entity responsible for distributing the state’s economic development subsidies - discloses information online for only a portion of its economic development funds. Shining a Light on the Arizona Commerce Authority, written one year after the launch of the Commerce Authority, assesses the agency's progress toward transparency and accountability standards.

(May 2012)
Following the Money 2012: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data

The ability to see how government uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy. State governments across the country have been making their checkbooks transparent by creating online transparency portals – government-operated websites that allow visitors to see who receives state money and for what purposes. Following the Money 2012, our third annual ranking of states' progress toward online spending transparency, documents the progress states have made in the past year in empowering citizens to track state spending.

(March 2012)
Cleaning Up Tax Increment Financing: Rethinking Chicago's Troubled Redevelopment Program

Tax increment financing (TIF) is a tool intended to provide cities with funds to redevelop economically troubled or declining areas. Unfortunately, it can also be used to spend public funds without proper accountability, transparency, or democratic oversight. Chicago's TIF program, between the late 1980s and late 2000s, grew into a "shadow budget" from which hundreds of millions of dollars of development subsidies were disbursed at the mayor's discretion. "Cleaning Up Task Increment Financing" lays out the problems with Chicago's TIF program, and describes how local leaders can bring the program back in line with its original purpose.

(January 2012)

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