A few years ago Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO and current president of the LA Clippers, formed a group called USAFacts. Their goal was to collect comprehensive data on how tax revenues (federal, state and local) are spent in the U.S. Their initial publication, structured like a company’s Annual Report is being released today.
It should be required reading for anyone entering public office. It should also be consulted by anyone interested in how their tax dollars are being spent and more generally in how government works.
That includes those of us who work in the education field. There is a detailed information in the “Annual Report” on financial aid disbursements (p. 28), educational attainment levels broken down by various cohorts (p. 39), the size of the public education workforce – 10,979,260, or 47% of all government employees, of which 29% relate to higher education (p. 50), educational property assets (p. 57), fiscal year education spending comparisons (p. 80) and additional analysis of college enrollment and completion by income level and other attributes.
The database that backs up the Annual Report is reportedly being made public as well, which should allow for additional slicing and dicing of data and the ability to further analyze regional and local spending priorities and trends in education.
Thank you, Mr. Ballmer, for pulling together the team and funding this effort to increase transparency around government spending. Money well spent (as was the investment in the Clippers, especially if they can make it out of the second round of the playoffs this year).