Read founder Steve Ballmer’s Shareholders Letter and Access the Report Now
BELLEVUE, Wash.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#10k—USAFacts, a not-for-profit, nonpartisan civic initiative providing the most comprehensive and understandable single source of government data, today announced its US Government 10-K report is live and accessible to all. The report provides an in-depth look at government finances, key metrics and risk factors.
According to former Microsoft CEO and founder of USAFacts, Steve Ballmer, “the USAFacts US Government 10-K was created with the belief that Americans are the nation’s stakeholders and should benefit from the same level of rigor afforded shareholders of publicly traded companies.”
While publicly traded companies are legally required by the Securities and Exchange Commission to submit an annual Form 10-K, providing a comprehensive summary of performance, there is no similar mandate for analysing our government.
USAFacts’ US Government 10-K largely presents data from 2007 to 2017, based on the most recent government revenue and spending numbers available from more than 90,000 government entities. Governments do not do this on their own. And, even if some arm of the government was charted to do so, much of the data governments publish is years behind.
“Elected representatives are making policy decisions designed to solve problems using data that is too old to properly inform current realities,” said Mr. Ballmer.
An open letter to our nation’s shareholders (Americans) authored by Mr. Ballmer prefaces the report. The letter encourages Americans to:
- turn to facts when shaping their own views of the state of the union
- emphasizes challenges related to out-of-date government
- underscores key facts related to healthcare, Americans’ savings, home ownership, nutritional assistance, college education and employment.
Key Facts from 2007 to 2017
- Healthcare cost increases put pressure on government spending as well as costs for companies and individuals. Healthcare costs are growing faster than our population or general inflation. In 2017, they reached $3.5 trillion, a 19% increase per capita since 2007.
- Americans are saving more. Americans saved 13% of their post-tax income in 2017, up from 9%.
- Fewer families own homes and it’s harder to get into public housing. The percentage of home owning families fell from 68% to 64% between 2007 to 2017.
- Government spending on nutritional assistance grew faster than the increase of people in poverty. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), aka “food stamps,” accounts for 1% of the government’s expenses. SNAP recipients peaked in 2013 and have decreased ever since.
- College is getting more expensive. The average undergraduate tuition, fees, room, and board rates for college students (before any financial aid) was $23,600 in 2017. Federal expenditures for student aid increased by 222%.
- State and local governments raise billions in revenue from investments. State and local governments invest heavily in the stock market. In 2017, earnings on these investments reached $458 billion, accounting for over 20% of state and local government revenue. Stock market drops during an economic downturn would significantly impact these governments.
- A smaller percentage of the population worked in 2017 than before the Great Recession. This decrease was not uniform: employment fell 3.2 percentage points for white populations, 2.8 points for Asian populations, 2.2 points for Hispanic populations, and 0.8 points for African-American populations. The percent of people older than 65 who were working during this time grew from 15% to 19%.
The Impact of COVID-19 and the Suspension of Census Field Operations
As the letter to shareholders concludes, based on the current nature of government data reporting, people cannot yet understand the scale and impact of national and global events like the coronavirus pandemic. How the nation will manage that and increasing healthcare costs remains to be seen.
The increased savings Americans had by 2017 could be wiped out by the current record unemployment. The CARES Act relief checks might not be enough,
In addition to the effect coronavirus will have on people’s health, their standard of living, and the economy, one additional outcome is the suspension of the 2020 Census field operations, which will impact the data provided in this report in future years.
“What we can see is that the country is facing a confluence of risk factors largely unseen in most of our lifetimes,” stated Mr. Ballmer. “While so much is unknown, people can take learnings from historical data like that presented here and move into the future with cold, hard facts.”
Access USAFacts’ US Government 10-K now. Accessibility update: This year, based on a collaboration with DFIN and XBRL US to incorporate iXBRL tagging across the report, this document is machine-readable and serves as a case study for the benefits of introducing these standards for reporting at the federal, state and local levels.
USAFacts is a not-for-profit, nonpartisan civic initiative providing the most comprehensive and understandable single source of government data. USAFacts aggregates bring together data from over 70 government agencies to provide an understandable and approachable view of US spending, revenue, demographics, and policy outcomes — all aimed at grounding public debate in facts. It produces topical content throughout the year and has published annual reports and 10-Ks on the nation. Follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @USAFacts, and sign up for the data-driven newsletter at www.usafacts.org.
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