Category Archives: Websites/Databases/Blogs

Police Consolidation and Shared Services (PCASS)

Source: Police Consolidation and Shared Services (PCASS) at Michigan State University’s School of Criminal Justice, 2013

The program on Police Consolidation and Shared Services (PCASS) at Michigan State University’s School of Criminal Justice provides a single-point resource on structural options available for providing police services in an era of dwindling budgets. Police and public safety agencies have reached a critical juncture. It is no longer feasible for many individual cities, townships and municipalities to maintain their own police and public safety entities. The PCASS program will create, assemble, and disseminate research and other resources on the nature, options, implementation, efficiency, and effectiveness of all forms of consolidation and shared services. Our goal is to be independent and objective so that law enforcement and other officials can assess what model is best for their community.

The PCASS program offers police departments, city mangers, and supervisors information developed by peer agencies across the country and resources to manage transitions effectively, including strategies for structure, staffing and asset deployment; insight into what other communities are doing and how they are performing; guidance to structure consolidation in its many forms; best-practices and bottom-line implementation guidelines from expert practitioners and researchers.

Resources are arranged into three core areas: subject, purpose, and format. Start your research by choosing your subject area from the shield below. Check back often as we are continually updating our library.

America’s Worst Charities

Source: Kris Hundley, Kendall Taggart, Tampa Bay Times and Center for Investigative Reporting, June 2013

Across the nation, hundreds of charities take your donations in the name of cancer patients, dying children and homeless veterans. But the real beneficiaries are the charity founders themselves and the for-profit companies they pay to run boiler rooms that dial for dollars. To tell the stories of America’s worst charities, reporters reviewed thousands of charities and charted their finances going back a decade. These charities use deception, and in some cases outright lies, to persuade donors to give. Then they spend as much as 90 cents of every dollar raised to generate more donations. Regulators have proven powerless to stop the cycle of waste and deceit.

Dirty secrets of the worst charities
The 50 worst have raised more than $1 billion in the past 10 years, but only a fraction went to anyone other than the charities’ operators and professional solicitors.
50 Worst Charities list

A failure of regulation
Unscrupulous operators collect hundreds of millions of dollars each year while fooling donors. When they get caught, they have little to fear even if regulators try to shut them down.
Map: How the states regulate charities

The Reynolds family empire
Operating in multiple states, one family has created a lucrative network of bad charities. In a recent year, family members took nearly $1 million in salaries while giving away a pittance in cash.
Graphic: The Reynolds family charity network

Charities in trouble
Explore our one-of-a-kind national database of charities and fundraisers that have been cited by state regulators.

Resources for checking nonprofits
A list of solicitors used by the worst 50
A list of the worst 50, with addresses
ProPublica’s Nonprofit Explorer
Guidestar’s research website
GiveWell does in-depth research into a small number of worthy charities
Charity Navigator’s charity evaluation website
CharityWatch’s charity rating service
The Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving website

The Governance of Nonprofit Hospitals

Source: Uwe E. Reinhardt, New York Times, Economix blog, April 12, 2013

Go to the Web site of any publicly traded profit-making corporation – e.g., the Hospital Corporation of America – and click on the tab “Investor Relations.”

You will find tabs for annual reports to shareholders and the mandatory filings made to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Among them are 10-K’s, annual reports that are detailed and audited. There is also great detail on the criteria by which executive performance is evaluated by the board of directors, along with dollar figures of actual compensation paid.

Is there anything like this transparency and public accountability in the nonprofit sector? Indeed, who actually owns these entities? To whom do they render account for the sizable real resources and finances under their control? And what benefits do they deliver in return for the exemption from income taxation they enjoy?…

Reports of Exempt Organizations

Source: Public.Resource.Org, Bulk.Resource.org, 2013

Welcome! This service provides bulk access to 6,749,562 filings of exempt organizations to the Internal Revenue Service. Each month, we process DVDs from the IRS for Private Foundations (Type PF), Exempt Organizations (Type EO), and unrelated business income (Type T).

We have more information available about this service, as well as pages explaining the privacy issues, a program of data extraction, and a deed of gift to the U.S. Government asking them to take this service over. Every government-issued public document deserves a secure permanent URL in .gov!

About This Service
1. What’s In the IRS Database
2. What Format We Get The Data In
3. What We Do With The Data
4. What You Can Do With The Data
5. What Needs To Happen Next
Related:
IRS 990s
Source: Internet Archive

Information for Impact: Liberating Nonprofit Sector Data
Source: Beth Simone Noveck and Daniel L. Gorof, Aspen Institute, Publication Number: 13-004, 2013

Parks for Sale

Source: InvestigateWest, 2012

For more than four decades, towns and cities in all 50 states have bought or built new public parks with money levied from oil companies that operate offshore oil drilling operations. The National Park Service has made about 42,000 park grants to states and local governments, and each grant imparts special protection: the park will never be closed to the public without written permission from the Park Service and a guarantee of a replacement of “equal fair market value and reasonably equivalent usefulness and location.”

An InvestigateWest investigation has found multiple failures in the Land and Water Conservation Fund leading to what parks advocates contend is an increasing number of park closures and conversions. The Park Service’s internal controls fall well short, and only in recent years has it started to request detailed information about park location. State compliance is spotty, and a five-year inspection cycle has slowed, with some parks going without inspection for up to a decade. And even in cases where the Park Service is consulted in a park conversion, an imbalance of power between local advocates and wealthy developers means uneven deals sometimes get struck and promises get broken.

In reporting this story, InvestigateWest tracked a handful of park conversions for more than three years, reviewed thousands of pages of documents, and compiled a database of federal grants under the Land and Water Conservation Fund. We’re asking readers to use this searchable database to identify local parks that have received such funding and file reports on the current status of those parks. …

Private Corrections Working Group (PCWG)

Source: Private Corrections Working Group (PCWG), 2012

The mission of the Private Corrections Working Group (PCWG) is to provide information and assistance to citizens, policy makers, and journalists concerning the dangers and pitfalls of privatization of correctional institutions and services in order to reverse and stop this social injustice.

Resources include:
Hall of Shame
Search both the US and the World

News
The latest on the industry

Rap Sheets
Individual company troubles

Resources

Executive Salaries, Incidents, Lawsuits, Legal Bribery, Letters, Links, Private Prison Facilities, Private Prison Lobbyists, Religious Statements and Reports

50 states and no winners

Source: Caitlin Ginley, State Integrity Investigation, 2012

…State officials make lofty promises when it comes to ethics in government. They tout the transparency of legislative processes, accessibility of records, and the openness of public meetings. But these efforts often fall short of providing any real transparency or legitimate hope of rooting out corruption.

That’s the depressing bottom line that emerges from the State Integrity Investigation, a first-of-its-kind, data-driven assessment of transparency, accountability and anti-corruption mechanisms in all 50 states. Not a single state — not one — earned an A grade from the months-long probe. Only five states earned a B grade: New Jersey, Connecticut, Washington, California, and Nebraska. Nineteen states got C’s and 18 received D’s. Eight states earned failing grades of 59 or below from the project, which is a collaboration of the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity, and Public Radio International.

The F’s went to Michigan, North Dakota, South Carolina, Maine, Virginia, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Georgia.

What’s behind the dismal grades? Across the board, state ethics, open records and disclosure laws lack one key feature: teeth. …..

Your state:
Review your state’s corruption risk report card and email it to your state officials. Track reform and play your part in more open and accountable state government on our Reform Efforts page

Motor Carrier Safety Measurement System (SMS)

Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 2012

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Safety Measurement System (SMS) is an automated system that quantifies motor carrier on road safety performance by Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs). FMCSA uses the SMS results and serious violations in these BASICs to prioritize its enforcement resources. Carriers with relatively high on-road violation or crash rates that exceed a CSA intervention threshold, noted by a [Exceeds Intervention Threshold] symbol on the SMS website, will be identified and prioritized for interventions such as warning letters and investigations. FMCSA will monitor these motor carriers’ safety performances for improvement.

The SMS results displayed on the SMS website are not intended to imply any federal safety rating of the carrier pursuant to 49 USC 31144. Readers should not draw conclusions about a carrier’s overall safety condition simply based on the data displayed in this system. Unless a motor carrier in the SMS has received an UNSATISFACTORY safety rating pursuant to 49 CFR Part 385, or has otherwise been ordered to discontinue operations by the FMCSA, it is authorized to operate on the nation’s roadways.
Related:
SaferBus Mobile App

AGA’s Online Government Fraud Prevention ToolKit

Source: Association of Government Accountants, 2011

Today AGA released a state-of-the-art, online resource designed to help officials at all levels of government to prevent, detect and deter fraud. The ToolKit will help promote program integrity at all levels of government. The ToolKit contains a comprehensive array of tools, educational materials, PowerPoint Presentations and videos. It is organized in a manner that promotes education. Users can find tools by looking under business process, such as accounts receivable; program areas, like the Office of Management and Budget’s high-risk programs; or by fraud type, such as bid-rigging.