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. CoPIRG Foundation 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. CoPIRG Foundation'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 | CoPIRG | Democracy

McCutcheon Money

We project that striking the aggregate contribution limit would bring more than $1 billion in additional campaign contributions from elite donors through the 2020 election cycle.

> Keep Reading
Report | CoPIRG | Democracy

Billion-Dollar Democracy

 

The first presidential election since Citizens United lived up to its hype, with unprecedented outside spending from new sources making headlines. This is Demos and CoPIRG Foundation's analysis of reports from campaigns, parties, and outside spenders to the Federal Election Commission to find our big money system distorts democracy and creates clear winners and losers.

 

> Keep Reading
Report | CoPIRG | Democracy

Outsized Spending in Colorado

The 2012 elections were by far the most expensive in history thanks primarily to the tidal wave of outside, special interest money triggered by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

> Keep Reading
Report | CoPIRG Foundation | Democracy

Million-Dollar Megaphones

Outside spending by organizations that aggregate unlimited contributions from wealthy individuals and institutions is playing a significant role in the 2012 election cycle, and much of it is not disclosed.

> Keep Reading
News Release | CoPIRG Foundation | Democracy

New Report Details Latest Campaign Finance Numbers on Outside Spending

Unlimited outside spending fueled by a small number of wealthy donors is poised to have an outsized impact on the 2012 elections, according to a new report analyzing the latest campaign filings.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Report | CoPIRG | Democracy

Billion-Dollar Democracy

 

The first presidential election since Citizens United lived up to its hype, with unprecedented outside spending from new sources making headlines. This is Demos and CoPIRG Foundation's analysis of reports from campaigns, parties, and outside spenders to the Federal Election Commission to find our big money system distorts democracy and creates clear winners and losers.

 

> Keep Reading
Report | CoPIRG | Democracy

Outsized Spending in Colorado

The 2012 elections were by far the most expensive in history thanks primarily to the tidal wave of outside, special interest money triggered by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

> Keep Reading
Report | CoPIRG Foundation | Democracy

Million-Dollar Megaphones

Outside spending by organizations that aggregate unlimited contributions from wealthy individuals and institutions is playing a significant role in the 2012 election cycle, and much of it is not disclosed.

> Keep Reading

Pages

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