Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer Launches USAFacts

Steve Ballmer says he’s spent more than $10 million researching what really happens to the public’s tax dollars

Steve Ballmer says he’s spent more than $10 million researching what really happens to the public’s tax dollars

Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft and current owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, is doing a significant public service. This lead to the creation of USAFacts, which in Ballmer's words seeks to "figure out what the government really does with the money".

When Ballmer retired from Microsoft in 2014, he initially rejected becoming a philanthropist, believing that the taxes he paid were good enough.

He says he created USAFacts because he was frustrated he couldn't find a single source that combined all the relevant local, state and federal numbers. "It's wonky, it's this, it's that, but it's the greatest depth you're going to get, and it's accurate".

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Currently, there's a USAFacts website, an annual report, a summary report and a government "10-K" modeled on the 10K documents that public companies annual submit to the Securities and Exchange Commission. "Let's say it costs three, four, five million a year", Ballmer told The New York Times.

"I think a lot of information is put out to make a point", Ballmer told Recode in an interview.

"I would like citizens to be able to use this to form intelligent opinions", Mr. Ballmer said.

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Ballmer, who describes the site as a 10K for the government, is particularly famous for his appreciation of numbers and data in arguments, which spills over from business into his personal life, too. The 10-K doesn't highlight the quirks of the U.S. Congress that render it hard to pass legislation, the slow-moving nature of the rest of Washington, or the role of corporate executives - Ballmer included - to fund political candidates for those very offices. Nearly half of them, Ballmer said, are employees in the education system. "We have that. We'll continue to extend the database", Ballmer said.

The project, called USAFacts, aims to bring together financial information on how the US government spends tax dollars. Ballmer said that he searched the Internet and couldn't find the data he wanted.

The site went live Tuesday and Ballmer says that the objective is to "figure out what the government really does with the money", and it works like a 10-K of the government.

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Last year, Twitter was also reportedly approached by a number of companies interested in acquiring the company including Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) and Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL). "I don't even deduct this for my taxes".

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