Reports on Good Government

The reports below represent a sample of Frontier Group’s work on Good Government. For more of our reports on this and related topics, please visit www.PolicyArchive.org. Full archive coming soon.

Following the Money 2014: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data

The ability to see how government uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy. State governments across the country have made their checkbooks transparent by creating online transparency portals – government-operated websites that allow visitors to see who receives state money and for what purposes. Following the Money 2014, our fifth annual ranking of states' progress toward online spending transparency, documents the progress states have made in the past year in empowering citizens to track state spending.

(April 2014)
Following the Money 2013: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data

The ability to see how government uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy. State governments across the country have made their checkbooks transparent by creating online transparency portals – government-operated websites that allow visitors to see who receives state money and for what purposes. Following the Money 2013, our fourth annual ranking of states' progress toward online spending transparency, documents the progress states have made in the past year in empowering citizens to track state spending.

(March 2013)
Getting Our Money's Worth?: Promoting Transparency and Accountability for Corporate Tax Subsidies in Massachusetts

The people of Massachusetts deserve to know how their tax dollars are spent, including on tax subsidies for businesses. Unfortunately, the Commonwealth provides only limited transparency and accountability for spending through the tax code in the form of “special business tax subsidies.” Getting Our Money’s Worth? identifies where Massachusetts is falling short and the steps it can take to ensure Bay Staters are getting the most bang for their buck from business tax subsidies. (March 2013)

(March 2013)
The Hidden Cost of Offshore Tax Havens: State Budgets Under Pressure from Tax Loophole Abuse

When U.S. corporations and wealthy individuals use offshore tax havens to avoid paying taxes to the government, it is an abuse of our tax system. Tax haven abusers benefit from our markets, infrastructure, educated workforce, and security, but they pay next to nothing for these benefits. Tax haven abuse by corporations and wealthy individuals costs the federal government $150 billion in lost revenues each year, and state governments lose billions, as well. In this report, we estimate the tax revenues lost to state governments through the use of offshore tax havens each year and suggest policies to help state governments reduce the fiscal impact of offshore tax havens on their budgets.

(February 2013)
Transparency in City Spending: Rating the Availability of Online Government Data in America's Largest Cities

The ability to see how government uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy. Transparency in government spending checks corruptions, bolsters public confidence, improves responsiveness, and promotes greater effectiveness and fiscal responsibility. Transparency in City Spending rates the progress of America's most populous cities toward making their checkbooks transparent and posting recipient-specific spending data online.

(January 2013)
Shining a Light on the Arizona Commerce Authority: The Need for Stronger Transparency and Accountability Standards at the State's Economic Development Corporation

Arizonans deserve to know how their taxpayer dollars are spent - including when their tax dollars are given as subsidies to corporations. However,  the Arizona Commerce Authority - the new state entity responsible for distributing the state’s economic development subsidies - discloses information online for only a portion of its economic development funds. Shining a Light on the Arizona Commerce Authority, written one year after the launch of the Commerce Authority, assesses the agency's progress toward transparency and accountability standards.

(May 2012)
Following the Money 2012: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data

The ability to see how government uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy. State governments across the country have been making their checkbooks transparent by creating online transparency portals – government-operated websites that allow visitors to see who receives state money and for what purposes. Following the Money 2012, our third annual ranking of states' progress toward online spending transparency, documents the progress states have made in the past year in empowering citizens to track state spending.

(March 2012)
Cleaning Up Tax Increment Financing: Rethinking Chicago's Troubled Redevelopment Program

Tax increment financing (TIF) is a tool intended to provide cities with funds to redevelop economically troubled or declining areas. Unfortunately, it can also be used to spend public funds without proper accountability, transparency, or democratic oversight. Chicago's TIF program, between the late 1980s and late 2000s, grew into a "shadow budget" from which hundreds of millions of dollars of development subsidies were disbursed at the mayor's discretion. "Cleaning Up Task Increment Financing" lays out the problems with Chicago's TIF program, and describes how local leaders can bring the program back in line with its original purpose.

(January 2012)
Caution: Red Light Cameras Ahead: The Risks of Privatizing Traffic Law Enforcement and How to Protect the Public

Privatized traffic law enforcement systems are spreading rapidly across the United States. As many as 700 local jurisdictions have entered into deals with for-profit companies to install camera systems at intersections and along roadways to encourage drivers to obey traffic signals and follow speed limits. This report evaluates deals that cities have struck with private companies for traffic law enforcement systems, noting how they sometimes prevent local governments from acting in the best interests of their citizens.

(October 2011)
Tax-Increment Financing: The Need for Increased Transparency and Accountability in Local Economic Development Subsidies

Tax-increment financing (TIF) is a popular tool used by local governments to secure revenue for development projects. Beyond its legitimate uses, it can be misused to spend taxpayer money without accountability, transparency, or democratic oversight. This report describes the dangers posed by TIF, and sets out principles to ensure its proper use.

(October 2011)
High-Speed Rail: Public, Private or Both?: Assessing the Prospects, Promise and Pitfalls of Public-Private Partnerships

Private sector companies are likely to play a major role in the construction of high-speed rail lines in the United States. Yet, the experience with "public-private partnerships" (PPPs) in the construction of high-speed rail lines abroad has been mixed. High-Speed Rail: Public, Private or Both? discusses the pros and cons of high-speed rail PPPs, reviews the experiences abroad, and lays out a series of principles that should guide future high-speed rail PPPs in the United States.

(July 2011)
Tax Shell Game: How Much Did Offshore Tax Havens Cost You in 2010?

Tax havens are countries with minimal or no taxes, to which U.S.-based multinational firms or individuals transfer their earnings to avoid paying taxes in the United States. Abuse of tax havens inflicts a price on other American taxpayers, who must pay higher taxes—now or in the future—to cover the government’s revenue shortfall, or must deal with cuts in government services. Tax Shell Game estimates the additional tax burden faced by residents of each state because of tax haven abuse.

(April 2011)
Following the Money 2011: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data

The ability to see how government uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy. State governments across the country have been making their checkbooks transparent by creating online transparency portals – government-operated websites that allow visitors to see who receives state money and for what purposes. Following the Money 2011, our second annual ranking of states' progress toward online spending transparency, documents the progress states have made in the past year in empowering citizens to track state spending.

(March 2011)
Wisconsin Spending Transparency 2.0: Online Tools for Better Government

The ability to see how government uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy. Spending transparency checks corruption, bolsters public confidence in government, and promotes fiscal responsibility. Wisconsin’s online government spending websites are disappointingly incomplete. Wisconsin has a very long way to go to match the spending transparency efforts of leading states such as Illinois and Minnesota in the movement toward “Transparency 2.0” – a new standard of comprehensive, one-stop, one-click budget accountability and accessibility.

(October 2010)
Pennsylvania Spending Transparency 2.0: Online Tools for Better Government

The ability to see how government uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy. Spending transparency checks corruption, bolsters public confidence in government, and promotes fiscal responsibility. Pennsylvania Spending Transparency 2.0 explains how Pennsylvania’s new online government spending Web site – the Contracts e-Library – represents a good first step toward greater transparency. But Pennsylvania has a long way to go to match the spending transparency efforts of leading states in the movement toward “Transparency 2.0” – a new standard of comprehensive, one-stop, one-click budget accountability and accessibility.

(October 2010)

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