Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has been working on a secret project over the last three years, and it made its debut on Tuesday.
Ballmer along with a team of professors and economists on Tuesday released USAFacts, a database that catalogs and analyzes how federal, state, and local governments are generating revenue and spending the funds at their disposal. The service also includes a slew of reports users can run to evaluate everything from tax rates to crime rates across the United States.
On the site, USAFacts is called a “non-partisan, not-for-profit civic initiative” with no “political agenda or commercial motive.” The site operators say the information is available as a “public service,” and that they plan to add more data points as time goes on.
Ballmer, a billionaire and one of the richest people in the world, is best known for his tenure as Microsoft’s (MSFT) CEO, a position he stepped down from in 2014. Since then, he’s been the owner of the NBA team Los Angeles Clippers.
In a far-reaching interview with The New York Times published on Monday, Ballmer called his new venture a type of “10-K for a government,” a nod to the annual financial document public companies file on their fiscal year performance. Ballmer added that he wants the data users can collect from USAFacts to be employed for the formation of “intelligent opinions.”
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Ballmer was surprised to find that no one else had tried to compile all government income and expense data into an actionable format. Ballmer said that he searched the Internet and couldn’t find the data he wanted. So, he set out to do it himself with that the Times calls, “an unlimited budget.” Between his own funding and some grants, Ballmer estimated he’s spent more than $10 million on the site, and he plans to continue to bankroll it as a public service.
“Let’s say it costs three, four, five million a year,” he told the Times. “I’m happy to fund the damn thing.”
And just in case you’re wondering: Ballmer won’t deduct USAFacts contributions to fund the site on his taxes.