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

News Release | MASSPIRG | Democracy

Local Youth Vote Campaign Launched, Final Push To Get Out The Vote

New youth voters poised to make big difference in election 2012.

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Democracy

Distorted Democracy: Big Money and Dark Money in the 2012 Elections

A new analysis of pre-election data from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and other sources by MASSPIRG and Demos shows that outside spending in the first presidential election since Citizens United is living up to its hype: new waves of “outside spending” have been fueled by dark money and unlimited fundraising from a small number of wealthy donors.

 

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Budget, Democracy, Tax

New Film Exposes Growing Use of Corporate Tax Havens

“The subject of this movie couldn’t be more timely, with taxes front-and-center this election season,” said Deirdre Cummings, legislative director of MASSPIRG. “Gaming the system and dodging taxes is not a right or left issue—it is a citizen issue with tremendous consequences for every resident of the Commonwealth and for every American.”

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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | 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.

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News Release | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Democracy

Outside Spending, Secret Money and Super PAC Fundraising On the Rise

The top 5 “dark money” spenders on presidential election ads have reported less than 1% of their spending to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Unfortunately, this is all that is required by the FEC’s insufficient and inadequate standards, meaning that these spenders are not running afoul of the law.

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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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