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. MASSPIRG 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. MASSPIRG 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

Blog Post | Democracy

Election Modernization Coalition Statement on Chelsea Collaborative v. Galvin | Janet Domenitz

Court strikes down barrier to voting, coalition praises decision.

> Keep Reading
News Release | MASSPIRG EDUCATION FUND | Democracy

Early Voting Awards

As part of the Election Modernization Coalition MASSPIRG Education Fund presented awards to 201 cities and towns for their early voting efforts. 

> Keep Reading
Media Hit | Democracy

Real Power Lies in your Vote

Depending on one’s perspective (and not necessarily one’s party affiliation), this remarkable election season has created a bit of discussion over the phrase, "Make America Great Again."

> Keep Reading
News Release | Election Modernization Coalition | Democracy

Election Modernization Coalition Releases Status Update on Implementation of Early Voting in Massachusetts

The groups noted that a successful implementation of early voting will have a particular impact on those with multiple jobs and minimal resources.

> Keep Reading
News Release | MASSPIRG | Democracy

Press Statement on Governor Baker’s Veto of Early Voting Appropriation

From our earliest civics classes, we learn that when a bill becomes a law it must be enacted and enforced. This is a basic tenet of government, but it has been compromised by Governor Charlie Baker’s cut to the early voting budget. 

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | MASSPIRG EDUCATION FUND | Democracy

Early Voting Awards

As part of the Election Modernization Coalition MASSPIRG Education Fund presented awards to 201 cities and towns for their early voting efforts. 

> Keep Reading
Media Hit | Democracy

Real Power Lies in your Vote

Depending on one’s perspective (and not necessarily one’s party affiliation), this remarkable election season has created a bit of discussion over the phrase, "Make America Great Again."

> Keep Reading
News Release | Election Modernization Coalition | Democracy

Election Modernization Coalition Releases Status Update on Implementation of Early Voting in Massachusetts

The groups noted that a successful implementation of early voting will have a particular impact on those with multiple jobs and minimal resources.

> Keep Reading
News Release | MASSPIRG | Democracy

Press Statement on Governor Baker’s Veto of Early Voting Appropriation

From our earliest civics classes, we learn that when a bill becomes a law it must be enacted and enforced. This is a basic tenet of government, but it has been compromised by Governor Charlie Baker’s cut to the early voting budget. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | MASSPIRG | Democracy

Massachusetts Election Modernization Coalition Statement on Early Voting Costs

In response to a Politico Massachusetts article, released yesterday, titled Cities and towns fret over costs of early voting,” the Massachusetts Election Modernization Coalition has released a statement clarifying our position.

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Pages

Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Democracy

CarMax Endangers Lives in Massachusetts

CarMax, the nation's largest retailer of used cars, is selling recalled vehicles with dangerous and potentially lethal safety defects to Massachusetts car buyers. Those unsafe vehicles are hazardous not only to the people who buy them, but to the cars’ passengers and everyone else who shares the roads and adjacent areas, including sidewalks, driveways and parking lots. 

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Democracy

Boosting the Impact of Small Donors

This report examines how the 2016 presidential race would be reshaped by a public financing system that amplifies the voices of small donors in our elections. 

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Report | MASSPIRG | Democracy

Early Voting Principles

 In May 2014, the Massachusetts legislature passed an historic reform of our state’s election laws. As part of the new law, it established early voting starting with the November 2016 election. Early voting is one important way to expand access to our democracy. It allows people whose work or family obligations preclude them from standing in line or even getting to the polls on Election Day, more opportunities to vote. The early voting period starts 11 business days preceding the election.

> Keep Reading
Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Democracy

Fighting Big Money, Empowering People

Like every generation before us, Americans are coming together to preserve a democracy of the people, by the people, and for the people. American democracy is premised on the consent of the governed, and on the idea that we all deserve a say in the government decisions that affect our families. We stand united supporting commonsense protections that recognize the people as the ultimate check on the corrosive influence of money in politics, which is eroding the very foundation of self-government.

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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Democracy

Boosting the Impact of Small Donors

With more than a year to go before voters cast their ballots for the next President of the United States, the race among candidates to build the biggest campaign war chest has already set records. The vast majority of the funds raised for the 2016 election have come from wealthy donors making contributions exponentially larger than most Americans can afford, typically to super PACs and other organizations that can legally accept donations of any size.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post | Democracy

Election Modernization Coalition Statement on Chelsea Collaborative v. Galvin | Janet Domenitz

Court strikes down barrier to voting, coalition praises decision.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Democracy

Statement from the Election Modernization Coalition Praising Boston's Early Voting Efforts | Janet Domenitz

In an election year that promises to have record turnout, access to the polls will be more important than ever. That is why the Election Modernization Coalition is pleased that the City of Boston has released today a citizen’s survey to inform their early voting plan for this fall. 

> Keep Reading
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Your tax-deductible donation supports MASSPIRG Education Fund’s work to educate consumers on the issues that matter, and to stand up to the powerful interests that are blocking progress.

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You can also support MASSPIRG Education Fund’s work through bequests, contributions from life insurance or retirement plans, securities contributions and vehicle donations.