Steve Ballmer launches USAFacts — GeekWire

Steve Ballmer says he’s spent more than $10 million researching what really happens to the public’s tax dollars

Ballmer has been up to for the last several years.

But first the backstory, which is a valuable prelude to a description of the project itself. That is worth, to a middle-income family, a hundred bucks a year.

"But come on, doesn't the government take care of the poor, the sick, the old?" But he then began to wonder where all that tax money he paid actually went. She suggested he get involved with philanthropy projects, but he was sure that the government had a handle on helping the poor.

Ballmer replied, "No, I'm not". She persisted that there was more to be done, and Ballmer chose to make it possible to find the answer to that.

He sought to "figure out what the government really does with the money", Mr. Ballmer said.

The former Microsoft executive says he wants to provide clear information on government spending, adding that he hopes it will be easier to discuss divisive issues if everyone can agree on the basic facts. For instance, you can see how many police are employed per region and run it against the crime rates in those areas. "Whether government money is spent wisely or not, whether our quality of life is improving or getting worse - that's for you to decide".

USAFacts also offers an annual report, a summary report, and a "10-K", which is modeled on the document public companies submit annually to the SEC for transparency and accountability to their investors, the website states.

So what can you expect to find on the site once it goes live?

In an age of fake news and questions about how politicians and others manipulate data to fit their biases, Ballmer's project may serve as a powerful antidote.

You can sign up to be notified when launches here. "I'm shocked!" he told the Times. In fact, he explicitly kept the data objective and nonpartisan so people can form their own opinions about it.

The USAFacts team includes economists, writers and researchers who produce the reports.

Ballmer invested more than $10 million into the venture, according to the New York Times. "I'm happy to fund the damn thing". "That felt good to me, as an example", he said.

"There's no - at least, I couldn't find an - integrated source of data, because to me integrated is important".

On the site's About page, Ballmer credits a conversation with his wife as the impetus for USAFacts. "Well, let's look at that".

Of those employees, almost half work in some capacity in education. "We have that. We'll continue to extend the database", Ballmer said. "But I do believe one of the missions of government is to correctly assemble this data in a way that is timely and informed. and I will be partisan [on that]". "I mean it's amusing, but I didn't realize all these not-for-profits were in a sense nearly like government contractors".

"We rely exclusively on publicly available government data sources", according to the website. But this created its own challenges.

Instead, Ballmer said he turned to a world he knew well - the boardroom.

But Ballmer doesn't peg government - or its hyper-partisanship - as a risk to itself. There is information on the number of firearms manufactured, licensed and inspected, but not on the total number of guns, he said. "I can't show it!"

This is just the beginning of his effort. He hopes to open it up so that individuals and companies can build on top of it and pull out customized reports.