New site JunketSleuth.com tracks how government spends taxpayer money on travel
Debut database covers half a billion dollars in Health and Human Services spending
Ann Arbor, Michigan – October 19, 2010 – Junketsleuth.com, an independent investigative reporting website that tracks how government agencies spend billions in taxpayer money on travel and related activities, has gone live.
JunketSleuth has obtained computerized travel databases from more than 25 federal agencies through the Freedom of Information Act and will post searchable versions on its site, along with stories drawn from its analysis of those records.
“At a time when the government is operating at a deep budget deficit – and when many American families are too strapped financially to afford a trip of any kind – we thought it would be instructive to see how wisely federal agencies are using taxpayer dollars when traveling,” said Chris Carey, the site’s editor.
The first database comes from the Department of Health and Human Services, an agency that includes the Food and Drug Administration, the Medicare and Medicaid programs and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The department accounts for roughly 20 percent of the federal budget. According to the travel database obtained by JunketSleuth, Health and Human Services employees spent roughly $530 million between 2005 and 2009, on trips that took them to all 50 states, four U.S. territories and 191 foreign countries.
JunketSleuth is a companion site to BailoutSleuth.com, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news site created in October 2008 to track the flow of taxpayer money from the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program and other federal economic-stability programs. Both are operated by BailoutSleuth.com Foundation Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation. BailoutSleuth.com Foundation is funded by entrepreneur Mark Cuban, whose holdings include the Dallas Mavericks, a National Basketball Association franchise; HDNet, a high-definition television network; and the Landmark Theatres chain.
BailoutSleuth and JunketSleuth operate with a staff of three full-time reporters. In addition, the organization has retained Pulitzer Prize-winner Russell Carollo as a consultant to seek government documents and databases through Freedom of Information Act requests, and to analyze the information received from federal agencies.