Government Transparency

Shaping A Government Accountable to the People

How our government collects and spends money is critically important. Tax and budget decisions are the most concrete way that communities declare priorities and balance competing values.

Unfortunately, government decisions about how to raise revenue and support public functions often fail to best advance the public interest. Too often, public subsidies, tax breaks or special deals are granted to powerful corporate interests at the taxpayers’ expense. When this happens, taxpayers are stuck with the tab, or public resources and services end up threatened.

It is not possible to ensure that government decisions are fair and efficient unless information is publicly accessible. Likewise, public officials and private companies that receive contracts and subsidies must be held accountable for delivering promised goods and services.

Transparency in government spending checks corruption, promotes fiscal responsibility, and allows for greater, more meaningful participation in our democratic system. Ohio PIRG Education Fund is working to advance these goals on a variety of fronts:

  • Promoting public access to online information about government spending at a detailed "checkbook" level including contracts, subsidies and "off-budget" agencies. Ohio PIRG Education Fund's 2016 Following The Money report is the seventh annual scorecard of state's online budget transparency. This latest scorecard finds that states continue to make progress toward comprehensive, one-stop, one-click transparency and accountability for state government spending, but some states are lagging and in all states there are opportunities to expand transparency to include economic development subsidies and quasi-public agencies.
  • Ensuring that companies that receive public subsidies are held accountable for delivering clear benefits or required to return public dollars. 
  • Protecting against bad privatization deals that sell off public assets on the cheap and diminish public control of vital public structures such as toll roads, parking systems and traffic enforcement. 

Find a full list of our reports here.

Issue updates

Report | Ohio PIRG Education Fund | Democracy

Million Dollar Megaphones

With presidential and senate campaigns heating up and Ohio named as a battleground state, millions in secret money is expected to flow into the state to influence the votes of Ohioans. Much about who funds these efforts and how this funding is spent remains a mystery, according to a report analyzing the latest campaign filings.This report provides a detailed analysis of Federal Election Commission (FEC) data and secondary sources on outside spending and Super PAC fundraising for 2012 election cycle.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Ohio PIRG Education Fund | Democracy

New Report Released: Auctioning Democracy

Today Ohio PIRG Education Fund and Demos released a new analysis of the funding sources for the campaign finance behemoths, Super PACs. The findings confirmed what many have predicted in the wake of the Supreme Court’s damaging Citizens United decision: since their inception in 2010, Super PACs have been primarily funded by a small segment of very wealthy individuals and business interests, with a small but significant amount of funds coming from secret sources.

> Keep Reading
Report | Ohio PIRG Education Fund | Democracy

Auctioning Democracy

A new report by Ohio PIRG Education Fund and Demos shows an analysis of the funding sources for the campaign finance behemoths, Super PACs. The findings confirmed what many have predicted in the wake of the Supreme Court’s damaging Citizens United decision: since their inception in 2010, Super PACs have been primarily funded by a small segment of very wealthy individuals and business interests, with a small but significant amount of funds coming from secret sources.

> Keep Reading
Report | Ohio PIRG | Democracy

Tax-Increment Financing

Tax-increment financing (TIF) has been a widely used tool for municipalities seeking private investment. TIF allows cities and towns to borrow against an area’s future tax revenues in order to invest in immediate projects or encourage present development. When used properly, TIF can promote enduring growth and stronger communities for blighted neighborhoods; but TIF can also end up wasting taxpayer resources or channeling money to politically favored special interests.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Ohio PIRG Education Fund | Democracy

New Report Shows Problems with Widely Used Local Economic Development Tool

A new research report released today outlines problems with the growing trend among cities to borrow against future growth and divert tax revenues as a way to attract economic development.

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Pages

Report | Ohio PIRG Education Fund and Demos

In 2014, large donors accounted for the vast majority of all individual federal election contributions this cycle, just as they have in previous elections. Seven of every 10 individual contribution dollars to the federal candidates, parties, PACs and Super PACs that were active in the 2013-2014 election cycle came from donors who gave $200 or more. Candidates alone got 84 percent of their individual contributions from large donors.

Report | Ohio PIRG Education Fund

Our analysis of fund-raising data from 2014’s congressional primaries examines the way these dynamics are playing out state by state across the country. While some states show markedly more inequity than others, the picture painted by the data is of a primary money race where large donors carry more weight than ordinary Americans. Nationwide, just under two-thirds of all candidate contributions came from the largest donors (those giving over $1,000). And fewer than 5,500 large donors matched the primary contributions coming from at least 440,000 donors nationwide.

Media Hit

BRECKSVILLE - The first Democracy Day town hall meeting allowed for the exchange of a wide variety of ideas about the issue of whether or not a 28th amendment to the Constitution is necessary.

Media Hit

Tabitha Woodruff, of the Ohio PIRG Education Fund, released what she said is troubling data the organization collected about fundraising during the 2012 election season, specifically from Super PAC and outside organizations.

News Release | Ohio PIRG Education Fund

Today Ohio PIRG and Move to Amend joined with ally organizations to mark Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the third anniversary of Citizens United v. FEC with an event drawing attention to the threat of unlimited corporate and special interest money in politics.

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