Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has launched USAFacts, a nonprofit that aims to provide “a data-driven portrait of the American population, our government’s finances, and government’s impact on society.”
The organization’s Web site, USAFacts.org, offers a vast array of data, including everything from tax revenues and expenditures, to poverty levels, energy production, and much more, displayed in eye-catching, easy-to-navigate dashboards.
“I’m a numbers guy. I really like numbers. That was part of my je ne sais quoi, if you will, at Microsoft,” he said in an interview about USAFacts with GeekWire. “And I think the appropriate role of numbers is to help to take complicated situations and simplify them for people to understand. … Oftentimes it helps to have some simple group of numbers that really let you understand what’s going on, and I enjoy that.”
The data is all taken from publicly available government sources, and is generally divided up into the four “Missions” that USAFacts takes from the preamble to the U.S. Constitution:
- Establish justice and ensure domestic tranquility;
- Provide for the common defense;
- Promote the general welfare; and,
- Secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.
A notice on the Web site also offers a potential opportunity: "We intend to engage a prominent accounting firm to confirm that our processes and controls are suitably designed and operate effectively to completely and accurately obtain and publish our data set."