Beats | April 21, 2017

Steve Ballmer’s new project aims to bring back facts to policy debates

The team at


In an interview with the New York Time’s Andrew Ross Sorkin, the billionaire former Microsoft CEO said he had been surprised by the findings from his new project: A trove of data to shed light on government spending.

“How many people work for government in the United States?” Ballmer asked Sorkin. “Almost 24 million. Would you have guessed that?” Ballmer, who gives to both parties, has spent three years working with economists and professors building USAFacts to catalog revenue and spending across federal, state and local governments.

“Most of the not-for-profits we work with would be 50 percent to 90 percent government-funded,” Mr. Ballmer told Sorkin, referring to his philanthropic efforts. “I didn’t realize all these not-for-profits were in a sense almost like government contractors.”

USAFacts allows citizens, policymakers and others to query questions such as, How much revenue do airports take in and spend? And, What percentage of overall tax revenue is paid by corporations?

Said Ballmer, “I would like citizens to be able to use this to form intelligent opinions.”

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