Category Archives: Websites/Databases/Blogs

Contractors Paid Billions in Environmental Penalties

Source: Project on Government Oversight, April 22, 2016

The federal government’s largest contractors paid more than $38 billion in penalties for environmental violations over the last 21 years, according to the Project On Government Oversight’s Federal Contractor Misconduct Database (FCMD). In honor of Earth Day, POGO elaborates on some of the more recent cases of environmental misconduct. Since 1995, POGO has tracked almost 400 instances of environmental violations by the top federal contractors in cases brought by local, state, federal, and international government agencies, non-governmental groups, and individuals. The FCMD is a compilation of misconduct and alleged misconduct by federal contractors categorized into 18 different types, including environmental. The FCMD’s environmental violation penalty total is understated due to the nearly 40 instances in which the penalty amount is either unknown or undisclosed. An additional 38 instances remain pending.

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Big Pharma, Oil Dominate List of Federal Contractors Most Penalized for Misconduct
Source: Neil Gordon, Project on Government Oversight, November 12, 2015

For the first time since the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) began tracking misconduct by the largest federal contractors, pharmaceutical and oil companies make up the top five highest penalized companies in POGO’s annual update. Started in 2002 as a way to highlight misconduct among the federal government’s largest contractors, the top of POGO’s list has traditionally been dominated by the defense industry. This year, the list of the 10 contractors that have paid the largest penalties is dominated by pharma or oil services companies. While some of the companies have contracts with the Pentagon, none are what POGO considers “traditional” defense contractors. … Visit POGO’s Federal Contractor Misconduct Database to access the latest compilation of instances of misconduct and alleged misconduct committed by top federal contractors from 1995 to the present.

Federal Government’s Largest Contractors Have Paid Billions in Fines, Penalties
Source: Project On Government Oversight’s (POGO) Federal Contractor Misconduct Database, Press Release, March 13, 2013

The federal government’s largest suppliers of goods and services have accumulated more than $59 billon in fines, penalties, and settlements since 1995 according to the Project On Government Oversight’s (POGO) Federal Contractor Misconduct Database.

POGO has added 12 new entities to the database, including telecom giant Verizon Communications and health insurer Highmark. Verizon has 24 instances of misconduct for which it incurred $477.5 million in penalties. Highmark has 7 instances and $59.3 million in penalties. The database now contains the civil, criminal, and administrative misconduct track records of a total of 172 contractors.

The database’s new top 100 federal contractors—ranked according to fiscal year 2011 contract spending data reported on the Federal Procurement Data System—received 55 percent of the $537 billion in federal contracts awarded that year. As of today, these 100 contractors have accumulated 932 misconduct instances and $41 billion in monetary penalties since 1995.

50-State Comparison: Charter School Policies

Source: Education Commission of the States, February 2016

Charter schools are semi-autonomous public schools that operate under a written contract with a state, district or other entity (referred to as an authorizer or sponsor). This contract—or charter—details how the school will be organized and managed, what students will be expected to achieve, and how success will be measured. Many charter schools enjoy freedom from laws and regulations affecting other public schools, as long as they continue to meet the terms of their charters. At the present time, 43 states and the District of Columbia have charter school laws. Charter school laws vary from state to state, and often differ on several important factors, such as who is allowed to authorize charter schools, how authorizers and charter schools are held accountable for student outcomes, and whether the teachers in a charter school have to be certified. Education Commission of the States has researched charter school policies in all states to provide this comprehensive resource, updated in January 2016. Click on the questions below for 50-state comparisons showing how all states approach specific charter school policies. Or, choose to view a specific state’s approach by going to the individual state profiles page.

New Search Engine Identifies the Biggest Corporate Violators

Source: Greg LeRoy, Huffington Post, November 4, 2015

Volkswagen cheats on emissions testing. General Motors fails to disclose a deadly ignition switch problem and is fined $900 million. JPMorgan Chase and three other large banks plead guilty to criminal charges of manipulating foreign exchange markets. ConAgra is penalized $11 million for distributing contaminated peanut butter. … Call it a corporate crime wave; there seems to be no end of big business transgressions. Companies have come to regard rising penalties as nothing more than a cost of doing business. They pay the fines and settlements, then resume business as usual. … Enter Violation Tracker, from Good Jobs First’s Corporate Research Project — the first search engine on corporate wrongdoing. Our initial version of the free database brings together about 100,000 cases with penalties of $5,000 or more initiated since 2010 by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and 11 other federal agencies dealing with the environment and a wide range of health and safety issues. It also includes settlements and verdicts in cases, both civil and criminal, referred by those agencies to the Justice Department. Additional violation categories — wage and hour, financial, false claims, price-fixing, bribery, etc. — will be added in the future.

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New Corporate Misconduct Database Identifies Largest Environmental, Health and Safety Violators
Source: Good Jobs First Press Release, October 27, 2015

Eight large corporations have each been penalized more than $1 billion in environmental, health and safety cases brought by federal regulatory agencies since 2010. Forty have paid $100 million or more. … These are among the findings of BP and Its Brethren, a report analyzing information in Violation Tracker, a new database of corporate misconduct. Both were produced by the Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First and are at violationtracker.org. The database includes 100,000 cases with penalties of $5,000 or more initiated by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration and 11 other agencies, including cases referred to the Justice Department. Additional violation categories will be added later.

Access Violation Tracker.

New Tool Exposes Companies Profiting from Mass Incarceration

Source: American Friends Service Committee, November 2, 2015

Human rights advocates are deploying a new digital tool to help convince corporations to stop profiting from mass incarceration. … Dalit Baum, AFSC’s director of economic activism, is set to unveil the committee’s new platform called Investigate at the annual Sustainable Responsible Impact Investments conference this week in Colorado. … Baum says the Web application is not just an information site. She says for the first time, people will be able to automatically scan their investment portfolios and find out if they are invested in the prison industry. She’s hopeful the platform will give investors and consumers the information they need to decide whether or not to support companies making money on mass incarceration. Baum says a lot of people are already familiar with high profile private-prison companies, such as the Corrections Corporation of America or the GEO Group. But she says this new tool helps expose firms people might not realize operate throughout the industry, from transportation and telephone companies to food, and even probation services.

Access Investigate

Md. strengthens disclosure of political activity by contractors

Source: John Fritze, The Baltimore Sun, September 5, 2015

Businesses that win contracts with local and state governments in Maryland are facing new requirements to disclose their political donations — and state election officials are using the information to build a first-of-its-kind database of contractors. … all contractors that do more than $200,000 in business will now have to register with the Maryland State Board of Elections, even if they do not give to a political campaign. Failure to file will carry a penalty up to $500. And state election officials are now putting the records online. … Government watchdogs have long scrutinized the relationship between campaign donations and contract awards — and the new tool will aid in that analysis. But the online tool will also provide a one-stop database of every major contractor in Maryland, whether the company is doing business the state itself, or a single county in Western Maryland. … The records are available at https://www.businessdisclosure.elections.maryland.gov/

New Database Will Track Who Runs Charter Schools

Source: John O’Connor, State Impact, August 4, 2015

Florida school districts will have a new way to track the financial and academic records of charter school operators. For the first time, a new database is connecting charter schools to who runs them. The goal is to reduce the number of charter schools that close. The National Association of Charter School Authorizers wants to create a paper trail. The group has launched a database that lists who is operating a school and includes performance data from the website GreatSchools.org. … William Haft with the association says it’s surprisingly difficult to track down who runs a charter school. … Nearly one in three Florida charter schools have closed since the state first allowed the publicly funded but privately run schools. And Florida charter schools were three times as likely to close during their first year than they were nationally during the 2013-2014 school year.

Related:

Charter Operator Tracker
Source: National Association of Charter School Authorizers

The Charter Operator Tracker (Beta) is a new database of information about charter school management organizations and the schools they operate. Launched August 2015, the beta version focuses on Florida, a state where nearly 45 percent of charter schools work with management organizations. The Charter Operator Tracker (Beta) is a tool that authorizers and other stakeholders can rely on for access to objective, publicly-available data about management organizations and the schools they currently operate or have previously operated in Florida and throughout the country. Data is searchable by operator and by school. … Although we are launching the beta version of the Charter Operator Tracker in Florida, we welcome feedback from all authorizers to help improve and further develop the database. To request access or to receive updates about the Tracker, please email .

Learn details on NY nonprofits

Source: Jeff Platskey, Press & Sun-Bulletin, August 10, 2015

To assure that a bulk of the proceeds are devoted to the cause, not-for-profit organizations are given special tax treatment. The organizations are exempt from federal or state income tax — if they report income. Also, not-for-profits, if they own real property, get a pass on property taxes and are given an exemption on sales tax payments for purchased items. What comes with the special tax treatment is an obligation for transparency — a full public airing of the organization’s finances and disclosure of its board members so those making the donations can make an independent determination on whether the organization is a worthy recipient of their money. … The CNY Media Group, which includes the Press & Sun-Bulletin, The Ithaca Journal and the Elmira Star-Gazette, now offers our readers a valuable new database in which you can easily access the assets, income and revenue of thousands of not-for-profit organizations in New York, also providing easy access to three years of more detailed IRS filings.

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SC State Government’s Highest-Paid Vendors

Source: State of South Carolina, Comptroller General’s Office, 2015

Each of the searchable, downloadable CSV files below shows the total amounts paid in a given fiscal year to firms by all S.C. state government entities whose expenditures are processed by the state’s central accounting system. Expenditures of state-supported colleges and universities are not included because each of those entities operates its own stand-alone accounting system independent of the state’s central accounting system. In another step to expand government spending transparency in South Carolina, the Comptroller General’s Office is providing these reports to show which individual firms receive the most state business.

Fiscal 2014
Fiscal 2013
Fiscal 2012

Does your state have a deal with the private prison industry? Check out our interactive map to find out.

Source: Beryl Lipton, MuckRock, January 5, 2015

Private prison corporations depend upon their relationships with government players to supply business. “Public-private partnerships”—established with local, state, and federal agencies—provide groups like Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) the financial incentives that contribute to mass incarceration in the United States.

The contracts that make this happen are invaluable means of finding out what kind of deals governments are making with the incarceration industry. For example, In the Public Interest, a research group interested in the privatization of public services, first reported on the “lockup quotas” that require governments to keep facilities full, which they discovered via these contracts.

MuckRock has submitted requests for nearly every contract currently maintained between a government agency and CCA and plotted them by facility on the map below. Requests were submitted at the local, state, and (when applicable) federal levels, and the facilities are divided by agency holding the largest contract: a state or local government to host local inmates, a state government to hold inmates out-of-state, and then Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Marshals, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Many of these requests are fresh. If a particularly prison is interesting or relevant, be sure to follow the request and an alert will be sent when the request is updated. Check back in as additional requests are filled, or let us know if you’d like to file your own request!