Steve Ballmer, a former CEO of Microsoft, has announced the launch of a new website -- USAFacts -- that provides a comprehensive database of government revenue and spending. USAFacts offers financial data taken from various sources and compiled by academics and researchers over the last three years. According to an interview in The New York Times, Ballmer said USAFacts intends on figuring “out what the government really does with the money.” 
 
USAFacts tracks $5.4 trillion in public spending under four categories derived from language contained in the Constitution. Categorized under the header “provide for the common defense,” is funding for the Pentagon, for example. Allocations and revenue are graphed in blue or pink in breakdowns according to federal, state, and local jurisdictions. Visitors to the website can seek specific data about crime rates or airport revenue, for example. Also included is a report of so-called “risk factors” that may inhibit economic growth.
 
Ballmer claims that the website is apolitical. He said that he hopes that the website will allow users to track government finances and thus form opinions based “on common data sets that are believable.” He told the New York Times, “I would like citizens to be able to use this to form intelligent opinions. People can disagree about what to do — I’m not going to tell people what to do.”
 
Besides the approximately $10 million he contributed to the USAFacts project, Ballmer has donated $1.83 million to causes that include gun control and charter schools.


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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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