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We believe it’s the most important public policy innovation in U.S. history. It’s time to follow the money, America.

Transparency changes everything! Search ALL government spending with Benjamin.

For the first time since 1789, there is one place to go to get the long-asked question, “What the heck is government up to?” And when you get there, you will find no spin, no obfuscation, no adjectives, no press secretaries, no blustering pols… just the facts.

After a $7 million investment over the last five years, for the first time in history, you can finally follow where nearly all taxpayer money was spent. Our innovative new Chat Bot, “Benjamin,” named after Benjamin Franklin, launches today.

Asked about the government the Constitutional Convention was establishing, Franklin said, “It’s a Republic… if you can keep it.” We think Benjamin the Chat Bot is just what Franklin would have wanted, had he lived this long.

Getting this data took some doing. We successfully prosecuted 250,000 Freedom of Information Act requests, from Alaska to Florida, and Maine to Hawaii, to capture nearly all public spending from the federal, state, and local governments.

We sued Illinois, Wyoming, and California for their state checkbooks. In the Golden State, it took us ten years to crack open their state checkbook. But we never gave up the fight.

Our Bot Benjamin makes it easy to search that treasure-trove of government spending. You can follow the money by answering three simple questions and entering a keyword or name. The service is free.

In minutes, at your kitchen table, or at a graduate seminar in a public policy, for a speech at your school board or testimony before your City Council, nearly all government payrolls and vendor checkbooks – federal, state, and local – are available on your computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone.

Here’s a sampling of what awaits you:

  • Public Employee Salaries: 25 million public employee salary and pension payouts. That’s all disclosed federal, state, and local government workers across America – even in your local school district. Yes, even the individual public pensions paid to public employee retirees are available for search.

  • Government Checkbooks: All disclosed federal, state, and 17,000 local, municipal-level government vendor checkbooks. There are 50,000 consequential local units and our capture continues. However, we have most of the larger government units already.

Want to search White House payrolls, federal farm subsidies, or the salary of your local fifth grade teacher? We’ve got it and Benjamin can answer.

What about a specific vendor? Key a law firm’s name into Benjamin. Within minutes you’ll know every unit of government that paid the firm. For instance, search “Orrick” – the prestigious Orrick, Harrington, & Sutcliff LLP law firm – you’ll find $59.3 million in payments from 364 units of government across 17 states since 2017.

Consider this the public-spending genome project. After scientists mapped the human genome, it ushered in a new era of medicine. Our new data set and AI search tool can revolutionize U.S. public policy and politics. We aspire to put you in the driver’s seat of government accountability.

Benjamin the bot can help.

Our data and technology are beginning to generate buzz. We’ve already seen local and national impacts.

Recently, we ran a couple large education vendors through Benjamin for their payments since 2017. The school curriculum provider, Discovery Education, was paid $236 million from 1,890 school districts in 45 states across the country. Panorama Education, the school survey company co-founded by Attorney General Merrick Garland’s son-in-law, Xan Tanner, and backed by some of the most wealthy people in the country, received $89 million from 712 school districts across 39 states.

In Illinois, the noted Edgar County Watchdogs wanted to know just how many Illinois school districts paid software vender, Vista Learning. The vendor’s previous president was a former regional schools superintendent and current employee of the Illinois Board of Education. Using our tool, they found 305 districts paid $1.8 million to the company from 2021-2022.  

An anonymous user searched “Amazon” in his state of Michigan. He found 183,295 payments from 454 units of government such as cities, villages, colleges, and schools for $173 million between 2017-2023.

It’s time to follow the money, America. Now you can – easily.

Think about this: Each year, millions, and indeed, billions, of dollars are spent on think tanks, action tanks, social welfare organizations, government contractors and institutions of higher learning and more and more. Yet, someone forgot to simply show the American people how and where their money was spent. Until now.

Government accountability starts with the “you” in Franklin’s admonition. We – regular people – must keep the republic. As of today, Benjamin is here to help. Give him a try – at OpenTheBooks.com. We are betting that you and our Bot Benjamin are a transparency machine that changes everything.

Additional Reading

Track Government Spending With Your Phone | By Adam Andrzejewski | The Wall Street Journal | May 29, 2013

Tracking Government Waste — There’s An App For That | By Dr. Tom Coburn | The Wall Street Journal | October 7, 2015

Wyoming State Auditor Charged Us $8,000 And We’ll Finally Receive The State Checkbook By 2048 | By Adam Andrzejewski | Forbes | June 14, 2018

Mapping $28 Billion In Wyoming State Checkbook Expenditures | By Adam Andrzejewski | Forbes | February 28, 2019

Historic Announcement– California’s Books Are Open – 201,000 Vendors Received $87 Billion In State Payments | By Adam Andrzejewski | OpenTheBooks.Substack | August 25, 2022

Former Controller Betty Yee Is Unqualified To Be Governor of California | Editorial Board, Orange County Register | April 3, 2024

About Us

OpenTheBooks.com – We believe transparency is transformational. Using forensic auditing and open records, we hold government accountable.

In year 2023, we filed 55,000 FOIA requests and successfully captured nearly all federal spending; 50 state checkbooks; vendor checkbooks from 17,000 municipal level governments; and 25 million public employee salary and pension records from 50,000 public bodies across America.

Our works have been featured at the BBC, Good Morning America, ABC World News Tonight, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, C-SPAN, The New York Times, NBC News, FOX News, Forbes, National Public Radio (NPR), Sinclair Broadcast Group, Chicago Tribune & many others.

Our organization accepts no government funding and was founded by CEO Adam Andrzejewski. Our federal oversight work was cited twice in the President’s Budget To Congress FY2021. Andrzejewski’s presentation, The Depth of the Swamp, at the Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar 2020 in Naples, Florida posted on YouTube received 4+ million views.

NOTICE: We reserve the right to remove comments that deemed offensive to our organization, staff, and audience.