Ex Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer offers facts on government

His latest project, USAFacts, went live online today in beta form. So Ballmer tried to look up exactly how much money the government had, and how it spent it, and how effective those programs were.

Beyond his own curiosity into government spending, he wants the public to be in the loop as well, especially at a time when so-called fake news runs rampant. Access to accurate, timely data can help leaders at the local, state, and federal levels, and even in enterprises, make better-informed decisions.

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer isn't satisfied with owning the Los Angeles Clippers and teaching at Stanford and USC. But the next time you're having a debate about where the federal government is, or should be, spending your hard earned cash, you can at least go into the argument with a powerful new tool at your disposal.

What if the USA government had to file a 10-K, an annual report required by the SEC that provides a comprehensive summary of a company's financial performance?

Former President Barack Obama opened the veil on government data when he introduced an open data portal that provided some public information, but things are less clear under current President Trump.

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Ballmer came up with idea after leaving Microsoft in 2014, when he was weighing how to use his philanthropy, the Ballmer Group, to make a difference in the lives of children and families. "Government hospitals. Really? I didn't know that". Is it making a difference?

Mr Ballmer is now committed to releasing a report every year, with the annual report taking thestyle of a corporate security filing.

USAFacts garners data from publicly available government resources and presents it in a number of clean, decipherable formats. "We hope that USAFacts will make a modest contribution toward building consensus and finding solutions". We need to use it honestly - not just cherrypicking whatever supports our views - to help us invest in what works and repurpose what doesn't.

Companies typically organize revenue into segments, and Ballmer's USAFacts team has done the same. If we're going to stem the alarming rise in polarization, if we're going to forge consensus, a good place to start is with a common set of facts on which people with opposing points of view can agree.

Ballmer is these days mostly known for owning the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team and a significant Twitter stake, but this week he is taking the wraps off USAFacts, a website chock-full of data related to US government spending.