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.

High-Speed Rail: Public, Private or Both?: Assessing the Prospects, Promise and Pitfalls of Public-Private Partnerships

Private sector companies are likely to play a major role in the construction of high-speed rail lines in the United States. Yet, the experience with "public-private partnerships" (PPPs) in the construction of high-speed rail lines abroad has been mixed. High-Speed Rail: Public, Private or Both? discusses the pros and cons of high-speed rail PPPs, reviews the experiences abroad, and lays out a series of principles that should guide future high-speed rail PPPs in the United States.

(July 2011)
Tax Shell Game: How Much Did Offshore Tax Havens Cost You in 2010?

Tax havens are countries with minimal or no taxes, to which U.S.-based multinational firms or individuals transfer their earnings to avoid paying taxes in the United States. Abuse of tax havens inflicts a price on other American taxpayers, who must pay higher taxes—now or in the future—to cover the government’s revenue shortfall, or must deal with cuts in government services. Tax Shell Game estimates the additional tax burden faced by residents of each state because of tax haven abuse.

(April 2011)
Following the Money 2011: 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 2011, our second 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 2011)
Wisconsin Spending Transparency 2.0: Online Tools for Better Government

The ability to see how government uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy. Spending transparency checks corruption, bolsters public confidence in government, and promotes fiscal responsibility. Wisconsin’s online government spending websites are disappointingly incomplete. Wisconsin has a very long way to go to match the spending transparency efforts of leading states such as Illinois and Minnesota in the movement toward “Transparency 2.0” – a new standard of comprehensive, one-stop, one-click budget accountability and accessibility.

(October 2010)
Pennsylvania Spending Transparency 2.0: Online Tools for Better Government

The ability to see how government uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy. Spending transparency checks corruption, bolsters public confidence in government, and promotes fiscal responsibility. Pennsylvania Spending Transparency 2.0 explains how Pennsylvania’s new online government spending Web site – the Contracts e-Library – represents a good first step toward greater transparency. But Pennsylvania has a long way to go to match the spending transparency efforts of leading states in the movement toward “Transparency 2.0” – a new standard of comprehensive, one-stop, one-click budget accountability and accessibility.

(October 2010)
Out of the Shadows: Massachusetts Quasi-Public Agencies and the Need for Transparency

In Massachusetts, quasi-public agencies perform vital government functions, delivering essential services such as operating public buses and rail systems, delivering drinking water and managing public pensions. But, too often, information on how quasi-publics perform those functions is inaccessible to the public. Out of the Shadows documents the size and extent of quasi-public agencies in Massachusetts and makes the case for greater transparency.

(May 2010)
Following the Money: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data

This report evaluates states’ progress toward “Transparency 2.0” – a new standard of comprehensive, one-stop, one-click budget accountability and accessibility. At least 7 states have become leaders in the drive toward Transparency 2.0, launching easy-to-use, searchable Web sites with a wide range of spending transparency information.

(April 2010)
California Budget Transparency 2.0: Online Tools for Better Government

The ability to see how government uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy. Budget transparency checks corruption, bolsters public confidence in government, and promotes fiscal responsibility. At least 29 states currently mandate that residents be able to access a searchable online database of government expenditures. These states have come to define “Transparency 2.0” – a new standard of comprehensive, one-stop, one-click budget accountability and accessibility. California has taken some steps towards better transparency, but still falls far short of the best practices established by other states. This report describes how California can fill in the gaps in government reporting and bring its online transparency up to speed.

(October 2009)
Privatization and the Public Interest: The Need for Transparency and Accountability in Chicago’s Public Asset Lease Deals

Chicago is at the forefront of the trend toward privatization of public assets. Since 2005, the city has leased a major toll road, four city-owned parking garages and 36,000 parking meters to private investors. Privatization and the Public Interest tells the story of the Chicago experience, which has delivered huge short-term cash inflows to the city at the risk of serious harm to the long-term public interest. The report recommends that Chicago embrace stronger protections for the public in future deals and use new tools to increase government transparency.

(October 2009)
Private Roads, Public Costs: The Facts About Toll Road Privatization and How to Protect the Public

Toll road privatization is becoming an increasingly important trend in the United States, with major implications for the public interest. Several states have sold off, or considered selling off, existing toll roads in exchange for huge upfront cash payments, while in other states, private companies have been given the right to build private roads and collect tolls from motorists. Private Roads, Public Costs spotlights this emerging trend, calls attention to the potential threats that toll road privatization poses to the public interest, and lays out an agenda for protecting the public.

(March 2009)
Looking for Funds in All the Wrong Places: How Out-of-District Fundraising Weakens Democracy in North Carolina

Out-of-district financial contributions from special interests and wealthy individuals undermine democracy in North Carolina by reducing the influence of citizens who live in a candidate’s district. Looking for Funds in All the Wrong Places analyzes contributions to 10 powerful members of North Carolina’s Legislature during their 2006 campaigns to determine how much funding came from outside the candidates’ districts. On average, 74 percent of funding came from outside the district, including 14 percent from outside the state. North Carolina should adopt a public financing system for legislative campaigns to address this problem.

(April 2007)
Greening the Budget: 11 Ideas for Protecting the Environment and Easing Maryland's Fiscal Crisis

Eleven fiscally sound and environmentally friendly “green budget” policies evaluated in this report could help the State of Maryland ease its budget crisis while discouraging waste and pollution. Closing harmful loopholes in the tax code, eliminating unfair subsidies for pollution, and cutting wasteful projects would create financial disincentives for sprawling growth, air pollution, wetlands development, overuse of groundwater, and other environmentally damaging activities. Adopting these policies could increase state revenues by at least $145 million, with up to $3 billion in long-term savings.

(June 2004)
Undermining Democracy:: Michigan's Failure to Limit Contributions to PACs

Michigan’s campaign finance laws allow citizens to make large donations to individual candidates and unlimited contributions to political action committees (PACs), undermining the ability of ordinary citizens to be heard in the political process. The absence of limits on giving to PACs distorts what should be a tool through which ordinary citizens can aggregate their political power into just another route for wealthy citizens to use money to influence elections. An analysis of data from the 2002 election cycle shows that some Michigan PACs are dominated by a few wealthy individuals who made contributions far greater than those feasible for citizens of average means.

(February 2004)

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