Economy First Look

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer launches database on government spending

Mr. Ballmer was frustrated he couldn't find a single source on local, state, and federal spending. So he created his own site.

Former Microsoft chief executive officer Steve Ballmer speaks to The Economic Club of New York in New York City, New York on Tuesday. He announced the effort of a new organization that analyzes government spending and revenue called USAFacts.
Mike Segar/Reuters
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  • AP
    Associated Press

Former Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer has created a new organization to analyze government spending and revenue to make it easier to understand.

He says he created USAFacts because he was frustrated he couldn't find a single source that combined all the relevant local, state and federal numbers.

Ballmer gathered a group of data specialists that spent nearly three years compiling the information for its first reports, which are available online at www.USAFacts.org. The reports will be updated periodically.

"I'm a numbers guy, and I think the appropriate role of numbers is to help take complicated situations and simplify them for people to understand," Ballmer said.

The former Microsoft executive said he wants to provide clear information on government spending, adding that he hopes it will be easier to discuss divisive issues if everyone can agree on the basic facts.

"When reasonable people, who may disagree, can look at the same data, it's easier for them to grow closer together," Ballmer said.

Already, Ballmer said he has been surprised by some of the numbers, such as the fact that more than 23 million people work for the government.

He announced the effort Tuesday in a speech at the Economic Club of New York.

The USAFacts team includes economists, writers and researchers who produce the reports. Academic experts from Stanford University, the University of Pennsylvania and Lynchberg College also helped.

Ballmer, who bought the Los Angeles Clippers after retiring from Microsoft in 2014, told the New York Times that he has invested roughly $10 million in USAFacts so far, and he's willing to continue spending several million dollars a year on it.

 

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