Steve Ballmer's Secret $10M Site on Gov't Spending Debuts

Ex-Microsoft CEO has been compiling monster database for 3 years
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 18, 2017 11:54 AM CDT
Steve Ballmer's Secret $10M Site on Gov't Spending Debuts
Steve Ballmer has been one busy guy since leaving Microsoft.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

Ask Steve Ballmer about the project he's been quietly working on since he retired as CEO of Microsoft, and he starts gushing with the "excitement of a child showing off a new toy," per the New York Times. That three-year project is, a "first of its kind" database for those interested in finding "facts about government in a comprehensive, nonpartisan way." These facts revolve around government spending on the federal, state, and local levels, a service Ballmer says will help US taxpayers find out where their money goes, with information on everything from airport revenue to what percent of US bridges are structurally deficient. He says he has spent $10 million of his own cash so far to fund a team of Seattle researchers and offer a grant to the University of Pennsylvania to help compile the data, which Fast Co. Design notes was crafted into a website by the Artefact firm.

Ballmer, who appeared Tuesday morning on CNBC's Squawk Box, notes the project, which he calls a "civic contribution," began when he left Microsoft in 2014 and started helping his wife with her philanthropic work—and couldn't find comprehensive data about government spending on relevant items, CNN reports. His goal is to create the governmental equivalent of a 10-K, the SEC form companies must file annually to show their financial performance. Ballmer and his team use only government-provided data to avoid bias accusations, though he says that can limit some information (he notes the NRA, for example, has pushed to keep data on the number of firearms in the US from public view). He did note on CNBC that there's still "a lot more work to do" on the site, which apparently went offline as he tried to show it off during the show. (Also on Ballmer's plate: being owner of the LA Clippers.)

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