Archive for the ‘U.S. Public Interest Research Group’ Category

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

July 10, 2015 Comments off

Following the Money 2015: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data
Source: U.S. PIRG

Every year, state governments spend hundreds of billions of dollars through contracts for goods and services, subsidies to encourage economic development, and other expenditures. Accountability and public scrutiny are necessary to ensure that the public can trust that state funds are spent as well as possible.

In recent years, state governments across the country have created transparency websites that provide checkbook-level information on government spending – meaning that users can view the payments made to individual companies as well as details about the goods or services purchased or other public benefits obtained. These websites allow residents and watchdog groups to ensure that taxpayers can see how public dollars are spent.

In 2015, all 50 states operated websites to make information on state expenditures accessible to the public and these web portals continue to improve. For instance, in 2015, all but two states allow users to search the online checkbook by agency, keyword and/or vendor, and 44 states provide checkbook-level data for one or more economic development subsidy programs. Many states are also disclosing new information and are making it easier for outside researchers to download and analyze large datasets about government spending.

This report, our sixth annual evaluation of state transparency websites, finds that states continue to make progress toward comprehensive, one-stop, one-click transparency and accountability for state government spending. Over the past year, many states have launched new and improved websites to better open the books on public spending, or have adopted new practices to further expand citizens’ access to critical spending information. Some states, however, still have a long way to go.

New Report Finds Drivers Pay Less Than Half the Cost of Roads

June 8, 2015 Comments off

New Report Finds Drivers Pay Less Than Half the Cost of Roads
Source: Frontier Group and U.S. PIRG

As Congress struggles to renew the federal transportation law, a new report from CALPIRG Education Fund and the Frontier Group finds that drivers currently pay less than half the total cost of roads, and argues that while increasing gas taxes could fill the shortfall, it would leave other problems unaddressed.

The new report, “Who Pays for Roads? How the ‘Users Pays’ Myth Gets in the Way of Solutions to America’s Transportation Problems” exposes the widening gap between how Californians think we pay for transportation – through gas taxes and other fees – and how we actually do.

Trouble in Toyland 2014: Avoiding Dangerous Toys

December 11, 2014 Comments off

Trouble in Toyland 2014: Avoiding Dangerous Toys
Source: U.S. Public Interest Research Group

For almost 30 years, U.S. PIRG Education Fund has conducted an annual survey of toy safety, which has led to an estimated 150 recalls and other regulatory actions over the years, and has helped educate the public and policymakers on the need for continued action to protect the health and wellbeing of children.

Among the toys surveyed this year, we found numerous choking hazards and five toys with concentrations of toxics exceeding federal standards. In addition to reporting on potentially hazardous products found in stores in 2014, this installment of the report describes the potential hazards in toys and children’s products.

See also: Toy-Related Deaths and Injuries: Calendar Year 2014 (PDF; Consumer Product Safety Commission, November 2014)

New Report Shows Mounting Evidence of Millennials’ Shift Away From Driving

October 15, 2014 Comments off

New Report Shows Mounting Evidence of Millennials’ Shift Away From Driving
Source: USPIRG

A new report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) Education Fund and the Frontier Group shows mounting evidence that the Millennial generation’s dramatic shift away from driving is more than temporary. While the 2000s saw a marked decrease in the average number of miles traveled by young Americans, the study explains that those trends appear likely to continue even as the economy improves – in light of the consistency of Millennials’ surveyed preferences, a continued reduction of Millennials driving to work, and the continued decreases in per-capita driving among all Americans.

Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average Taxpayer $1,259 a Year, Small Businesses $3,923

April 18, 2014 Comments off

Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average Taxpayer $1,259 a Year, Small Businesses $3,923
Source: U.S. Public Interest Research Group

As hardworking Americans file their taxes today, it’s a good time to be reminded that ordinary taxpayers pick up the tab for special interest loopholes in our tax laws. A new U.S. PIRG report released today revealed that the average American taxpayer in 2013 would have to shoulder an extra $1,259 in state and federal taxes to make up for the revenue lost due to the use of offshore tax havens by corporations and wealthy individuals.

Every year, corporations and wealthy individuals avoid paying an estimated $184 billion in state and federal income taxes by using complicated accounting tricks to shift their profits to offshore tax havens. Of that $184 billion, $110 billion is avoided specifically by corporations.

New Report Examines Promise and Potential Dangers of New Financial Marketplace

April 4, 2014 Comments off

New Report Examines Promise and Potential Dangers of New Financial Marketplace
Source: U.S. Public Interest Research Group

U.S. PIRG Education Fund and the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) released a comprehensive new report today [] focused on the realities of the new financial marketplace and the threats and opportunities its use poses to financial inclusion. The report examines the impact of digital technology, especially the unprecedented analytical and real-time actionable powers of “Big Data,” on consumer welfare. The groups immediately filed the report with the White House Big Data review headed by John Podesta, who serves as senior counselor to the President. The White House is to issue a report in April addressing the impact of “Big Data” practices on the public, including the possible need for additional consumer safeguards.

In addition to the undeniable convenience of online and mobile banking, explains the report, the new financial environment poses a number of challenges, especially for lower-income consumers. Increasingly, the public confronts an invisible “e-scoring” system that may limit their access to credit and other financial services. “We are being placed under a powerful ‘Big Data’ lens, through which, without meaningful transparency or control, decisions about our financial futures are being decided,” the report explains.

Study Shows Driving Decline in America’s Cities

December 5, 2013 Comments off

Study Shows Driving Decline in America’s Cities
Source: U.S. Public Interest Research Group

A first-of-its-kind report by U.S.PIRG Education Fund details reduced driving miles and rates of car commuting in America’s most populous urbanized areas, as well as greater use of public transit and biking in most cities.

The report, “Transportation in Transition: A Look at Changing Travel Patterns in America’s Biggest Cities,” is based on the most current available government data. It is the first ever national study to compare transportation trends for America’s largest cities and lists results for each. Among its national findings:

  • The proportion of workers commuting by private vehicle—either alone or in a carpool—declined in 99 out of 100 of America’s most populous urbanized areas between 2000 and the 2007-2011 period averaged in U.S. Census data.
  • From 2006 to 2011, the average number of miles driven per resident fell in almost three-quarters of America’s largest urbanized areas for which up-to-date and accurate Federal Highway Administration data are available (54 out of 74 urban areas).
  • The proportion of households without cars increased in 84 out of the 100 largest urbanized areas from 2006 to 2011. The proportion of households with two cars or more cars decreased in 86 out of the 100 of these areas during that period.
  • The proportion of residents bicycling to work increased in 85 out of 100 of America’s largest urbanized areas between 2000 and 2007-2011.
    The number of passenger-miles traveled per capita on transit increased in 60 out of 98 of America’s large urbanized areas whose trends could be analyzed between 2005 and 2010.

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