New Investigation:

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Never Mind the WikiLeaks, Here's Subsidy Tracker

The current furor over Wikileaks has triggered an intense discussion of government and corporate transparency and accountability issues (for example, check out POGO’s latest podcast), which has been great, but it has also drawn attention away from other notable recent developments in this area.

One such development comes courtesy of Philip Mattera and the folks at Good Jobs First. They have created a web-based resource called Subsidy Tracker, a database containing information on state subsidies awarded to companies to create jobs and spur economic development. Subsidy Tracker compiles information on these taxpayer-funded perks—income tax credits, property tax abatements, enterprise zone tax breaks, cash grants, and cost reimbursements—including the names of recipient companies, the dollar value of the subsidy (if available), the state program and agency involved, the location of the subsidized facility, and the employment impact of the subsidy.

Just to experiment, I ran the names of the top 10 contractors in our Federal Contractor Misconduct Database through the Subsidy Tracker search engine. Here’s what I found:

ContractorFederal Contract $ (FY 2009)Instances of Misconduct

(Since 1995)

Misconduct $ (Since 1995)Number of SubsidiesNumber of StatesSubsidy $
Lockheed Martin$38.1b53$ 577.4m346$22.9m
Boeing Company$20.1b39$1.6b62$1.5m
Northrop Grumman$17.1b31$ 835.1m194$13.9m
General Dynamics$16.7b13$ 78.5m279$4.1m
Raytheon Company$15.8b20$ 479.2m52$8,375
L-3 Communications$7.9b7$ 43.6m75$2m
United Technologies Corporation$7.7b15$ 389.2m22$492,884
BAE Systems$7.4b8$ 507.9m73$1.5m
SAIC$6.7b10$ 8.0m105$9m
Oshkosh Truck Corporation$6.4b0$ 0.0m000

(NOTE: This was a quick-and-dirty search. I didn’t search for subsidiaries, which probably explains the relatively low numbers, especially for Raytheon and United Technologies. I searched for SAIC as both “SAIC” and “Science Applications International Corporation”.)

Subsidy Tracker is a work in progress. It currently contains information on approximately 64,000 awards from 140 programs in 34 states and will steadily increase in depth and breadth over the coming months.

Subsidy Tracker is a great complement to another valuable government-corporate accountability tool, the National Institute on Money in State Politics’ Follow The Money database. Follow The Money tracks the influence of corporate money on state elections, and Subsidy Tracker provides the follow-up: how these corporations benefit from their campaign contributions.