Dirt Diggers Digest No. 56
October 25, 2004

Editor: Philip Mattera

1. Companies named in oil-for-food-program scandal
2. Tracking federal R&D projects
3. Disclosure of state legislator financial interests
4. Public treasurers seek disclosure of campaign contributions
5. Transparency International's focus on corruption in public procurement
6. Blogging the tobacco racketeering case
7. Northern Light business research engine for individuals
8. AFL-CIO website compiles info on export of jobs

1. Companies named in oil-for-food-program scandal

The Independent Inquiry Committee into the United Nations
Oil-for-Food Programme, which was created by Secretary-General
Kofi Annan, last week released a list of more than 3,000 companies
that had dealings with the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein
during the life of the program, which was allegedly rife with
corruption. The Committee found that 248 companies received
and paid for Iraqi oil under contracts totaling $64 billion, while
another 3,545 firms exported goods to south and central Iraq
while the program was in effect as part of the sanctions imposed
on the Hussein regime. Among the oil companies involved were
units of ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco. A page with links to the
Committee's public statement and the company lists can be found
at http://www.iic-offp.org/story21oct04.htm.

2. Tracking federal R&D projects

The Department of Energy's Office of Scientific and Technical
Information has expanded its database of federally-funded
research & development projects to include six different agency
sources. The website (at http://www.osti.gov/fedrnd/) allows one
to simultaneously search project databases from the Environmental
Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, the National
Institutes of Health, the Department of Agriculture and the Small
Business Administration--as well as the Energy Department. Among
the uses of the website is to track the flow of federal research dollars
to specific companies.

3. Disclosure of state legislator financial interests

Rick Rehberg reports that:

The Center for Public Integrity has created a searchable database of
state legislator financial disclosure forms.  Use the tabs on the left of
this page http://www.publicintegrity.org/oi/report.aspx?aid=377&sid=300
to search by legislator, zip code or financial interest (corporate name). 
Scanned images of the forms are available from 2000-2003 for
most legislators.

4. Public treasurers seek disclosure of campaign contributions

A group of city and state government treasurers recently sent an open
letter to SEC Chairman William Donaldson calling for mandatory
disclosure of contributions by public companies to political entities
such as 527s. The group, led by California State Treasurer Phil Angelides,
declared that "shareholders have a right to know how the companies they
own are using their money in the political arena." The letter can be found at http://www.treasurer.ca.gov/news/releases/2004/082504_sec.pdf

The disclosure proposal has also been promoted by the Center for
Political Accountability (http://www.politicalaccountability.net/), a non-
partisan group created last year "to bring transparency and accountability
to corporate political giving."

5. Transparency International's focus on corruption in public procurement

Transparency International, a transnational non-governmental organization
that campaigns against corruption, recently issued a report estimating that
corruption in public procurement costs $400 billion a year worldwide.

The estimate was made in connection with the release of the group's
Corruption Perception Index, which ranks countries according to the
degree of dishonesty cited in a variety of surveys. Transparency International
Chairman Peter Eigen noted that numerous oil-rich countries (including
postwar Iraq) did poorly in the rankings. "In these countries," Eigen said,
"public contracting in the oil sector is plagued by revenues vanishing into
the pockets of western oil executives, middlemen and local officials.”
The United States, by the way, ranked behind about 15 other countries,
mainly in Europe and Scandinavia but also including Australia, New
Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong. For more information, see

6. Blogging the tobacco racketeering case

Last month the Department of Justice opened its $280 billion
civil racketeering suit against the cigarette industry. If you want
a blow-by-blow account of the case and can't be in the courtroom,
your alternative is a blog called Tobacco on Trial, which can be
found at www.tobacco-on-trial.com. It has breaking news, court
documents and profiles of lawyers and witnesses. The blog is
an offshoot of Gene Borio's Tobacco.org website.

See also the Federal Trade Commission's recently released annual
report on cigarette sales: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2004/10/fyi0461.htm

7. Northern Light business research engine for individuals

Last year, in Dirt Diggers Digest No. 46, it was reported that
the information service Northern Light was returning with a
website that combined a business-oriented search engine and
access to so-called premium content. Initially, the new service
was being marketed only to large organizations at an annual fee
of some $20,000, but now it is available to those with more modest
means at a cost of $50 a month (free trials are available). The service
focuses on a controlled universe of about 16,000 business websites
and provides access to full-text content from 1,400 trade journals
and 70 newswires. For more details, see http://www.northernlight.com/.

8. AFL-CIO website compiles info on export of jobs

The AFL-CIO's Working America project has introduced a service
called Job Tracker <http://www.workingamerica.org/jobtracker/index.cfm>
that documents the movement of U.S. jobs overseas. The
database can be searched by zip code, company or industry.
Information for the website is derived from a variety of
sources (see http://www.workingamerica.org/jobtracker/sources.cfm
for the list), ranging from Worker Adjustment and Retraining
Notification (WARN) notices to the Lou Dobbs list.


A cumulative list of resources featured in the
Dirt Diggers Digest can be found on the web at:

Philip Mattera
Research Director & Director of the Corporate Research Project
Good Jobs First