On Tuesday, Mr. Ballmer plans to make public a database and a
report that he and a small army of economists, professors and
other professionals have been assembling as part of a stealth
start-up over the last three years called
USAFacts. The database is perhaps the
first nonpartisan effort to create a fully integrated look at
revenue and spending across federal, state and local governments.
Want to know how many police officers are employed in various
parts of the country and compare that against crime rates? Want
to know how much revenue is brought in from parking tickets and
the cost to collect? Want to know what percentage of Americans
suffer from diagnosed depression and how much the government
spends on it? That’s in there. You can slice the numbers in all
sorts of ways.
With an unlimited budget, he went about hiring a team of
researchers in Seattle and made a grant to the University of
Pennsylvania to help his staff put the information together.
Altogether, he has spent more than $10 million between direct
funding and grants.
“Let’s say it costs three, four, five million a year,” he said.
“I’m happy to fund the damn thing.”
This is just great.