Open The Books.

The group “Open the Books” has what we would consider to be an interesting mission statement:

Our Mission

Every Dime. Online. In Real Time.

Who We Are

At, we work hard to capture and post all disclosed spending at every level of government – federal, state, and local. We’ve successfully captured nearly 4 billion public expenditures, and we are rapidly growing our data in all 50 states down to the municipal level. We won’t stop until we capture every dime taxed and spent by our government.

As a government watchdog organization, we accept no government funding. is a project of American Transparency – a 501(c)3 nonprofit, nonpartisan charitable organization. All donations are tax deductible for federal or state income tax purposes to the fullest extent of the law.

Since 2011, the group, using public records has sought to document where federal dollars are spent. It’s a worthwhile project. First, there is an accountability issue. Taxpayers should know where their tax dollars are going. Secondly, there is a benefit to both the taxpayer and the government. If the government can demonstrate that the taxpayer money is being used for understandable and legitimate uses, the taxpayer is more likely to pay taxes or at least not complain about them as much.

The group has an interactive map on which you can track federal spending as well as searchable databases for whatever you want to look into.

The group has also released a report entitled “Mapping the Swamp – A Study of the Administrative State.”

It’s free, downloadable, and only 35 pages.

What a deal.

Here are some of the “highlights,” (“swamplights?”) from the summary page:

1. The federal government pays its disclosed workforce $1 million per minute, $66 million per hour, and $524 million per day. In FY2016, the federal government disclosed 1.97 million employees at a cash compensation cost of $136.3 billion.

2. Over a six-year period (FY2010-2016), the number of federal employees making $200,000 or more has increased by 165 percent; those making $150,000 or more has grown by 60 percent; and those making more than $100,000 has increased by 37 percent.

3. On average, federal employees are given 10 federal holidays, 13 sick days, and 20 vacation days per year. If each employee used 13 sick days and took 20 vacation days in addition to the 10 federal holidays, it would cost taxpayers an estimated $22.6 billion annually.

4. In FY2016, a total 406,960 employees made six-figure incomes – that’s roughly one in five disclosed federal employees. Furthermore, 29,852 federal employees out-earned each of the 50 state governors receiving more than $190,823.

5. At 78 out of the 122 independent agencies and departments we studied, the average employee compensation exceeded $100,000 in FY2016.

6. With 326 employees at a total cash compensation of $28.8 million, we found a federal agency in San Francisco – Presidio Trust – paid out three of the top four federal bonuses including the largest in the federal government in FY2016. The biggest bonus went to an HR Manager in charge of payroll for $141,525.

8. Only one-third of the 35,000 lawyers in the federal workforce work at the Department of Justice. The entire staff of federal lawyers earned $4.8 billion in FY2016.

9. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employed 3,498 police officers at a total cost of $172 million in FY2016. When asked about corresponding crime statistics, the VA was unable to provide any information on the number of crimes or incidents.

It is clear that Open The Books does great work on exposing the waste in government spending. The question is now, “what can be done about it?”

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