Dirt Diggers Digest No. 62

July 1, 2005

Editor: Philip Mattera

1. Illinois begins posting corporate subsidy data

2. "The Great American Jobs Scam"

3. New report debunks business climate rankings

4. Better access to CRS reports

5. FreeERISA offers tool for analyzing executive compensation

6. New York City launches lobbyist/vendor disclosure site

7. Mexico planning improved corporate financial disclosure

8. OneSource expands coverage; Experian offers new info service


1. Illinois begins posting corporate subsidy data

Illinois has set a new standard for corporate subsidy disclosure

with the launch of a website that implements the requirements

of the state's Corporate Accountability for Tax Expenditures Act

of 2003. Unlike most of the handful of other states with subsidy

disclosure systems, Illinois does not make the information hard

to find. The new site < http://corpacctportal.illinois.gov/ > allows

quick access to the reports that companies now have to file on

their participation in about a dozen subsidy programs. Among the

data in the reports are figures on the number of jobs created and

the pay level of those jobs.


2. "The Great American Jobs Scam"

Speaking of subsidies, a new book called "The Great American

Jobs Scam" includes a slew of horror stories on abuse of the

practice by companies ranging from Wal-Mart and Dell Computer

to Fidelity Investments and Boeing. The author is Greg LeRoy,

executive director of Good Jobs First, the group that pioneered

subsidy accountability (and where Dirt Diggers editor Phil Mattera

is research director.) The book documents the impact of subsidies

on public services such as education and their contribution to

problems such as sprawl. It also includes a close look at the

site-location consulting firms that pressure states and localities

to play the subsidy game. The book can be found in bookstores

and via online services (including the unionized bookseller Powell's).


3. New report debunks business climate rankings

One of the pressure tactics used by site-location consultants is to

tell public officials that they need adopt policies that will enhance the

city or state's position in various business climate rankings. A new

report by Peter Fisher called GRADING PLACES shows that, while

the main indices claim to measure capacity for economic growth, they

actually do little more than promote an agenda of low taxes, spending

cuts and reduced regulation. The report can be purchased from the

Economic Policy Institute or viewed in full online at



4. Better access to CRS reports

We have often reported on the long-running campaign to improve public

access to the valuable reports produced by the Congressional Research

Service on a wide range of topics, including many of interest to corporate

researchers. Congress treats CRS as its private analytical operation and

releases reports to the public on a very selective basis. A new site called

OpenCRS < www.opencrs.com > produced by the non-profit Center for

Democracy & Technology attempts to facilitate access to the CRS

oeuvre by providing a single database of the several thousand documents

that have been obtained and posted online by various organizations.

While OpenCRS is free, the subscription service Lexis-Nexis announced

recently that CRS documents will be among the materials included in its

Congressional Research Digital Collection scheduled to be launched this

fall < http://www.lexisnexis.com/about/releases/0805.asp >.


5. FreeERISA offers tool for analyzing executive compensation

FreeERISA, best known for providing access to data from 5500 filings by

employee benefit plans, has launched a new service that makes it possible

to do quick comparisons of executive compensation levels at publicly held

companies. Using data from proxy statements, the Complete Compensation

Database < http://www.freeerisa.com/ccc/ > enables users to do searches

based on geographic area and company data such as revenues and size

of workforce. One can, for example, call up a list of CEOs in a particular

state or metropolitan area and compare their compensation levels to

national averages. The basic service is free, but you have to pay a fee to

be able to export the data to a spreadsheet.


6. New York City launches lobbyist/vendor disclosure site

Nearly all state governments make available online lists of registered

lobbyists and their clients (Pennsylvania is the one holdout, because of a

court ruling). Getting similar information at the local level is not so easy,

though that has changed in the country's largest city. Recently, New York

launched a website called NYC Lobbyist Search that provides details on

lobbyists, their clients, the parts of government lobbied and issues promoted.

The site < http://www.nyc.gov/html/bizsearch/ > is also home to a database

launched earlier by the city on its vendors. The online version of the Vendor

Information Exchange System has basic data on contractors (total revenues

within a range, names of principals, etc.) as well as the number of contracts

held with the city and their total value.


7. Mexico planning improved corporate financial disclosure

A recent Reuters dispatch reported that lawmakers in Mexico are expected

to approve changes to the country's stock market laws that would include

stricter requirements on the disclosure of information to investors. The revised

law would make chief executives personally responsible for sharing market-

sensitive data with the public. Reuters raised questions about how well the

law would be enforced, noting that the National Banking and Securities

Commission has failed to make public the names of firms found guilty of

violating securities rules. See http://www.banderasnews.com/0506/nz-disclosure.htm


8. OneSource expands coverage; Experian offers new info service

The business database OneSource < http://www.onesource.com > has been

beefing up its offerings since being acquired by infoUSA last year. The new

version of its US Business Browser is said to have added in-depth profiles of

more than 160,000 private companies and has doubled its core coverage to

600,000 firms < http://www.onesource.com/about/news_detail_76.asp >.

Although OneSource is priced at a level suitable for large companies, it has

introduced a scaled-down version called OneSource Express.

Meanwhile, the credit rating service Experian is challenging OneSource and

other providers such as D&B with a new subscription service called BizInfo

Online < http://www.experian.com/products/bizinfo.html >. Experian says

that the service will provide "verified data" on more than 12 million U.S.

businesses, including many small and medium firms. That information will

not come cheaply. According to an article in Information Today, pricing

begins at $4,995 a year for a single user.


A cumulative index of sources (with links) mentioned in

issues of the Dirt Diggers Digest can be found at:



Philip Mattera

Research Director & Director of the Corporate Research Project

Good Jobs First