"Public employee salaries and retirement pensions are publicly funded and guaranteed. Since public employees are paid by the public, the public has a right to know who received how much."
"Taxpayers should not have to have a search warrant to see how their money is being spent. The people of Michigan deserve to see the granular details of who’s receiving what, when and after how long. It’s the only fair way to debate taxpayer-guaranteed job benefits."
"There is not one single instance of identity theft in Michigan or across the country attributable to transparency of pay and pension records. Last year, we posted online 23 million public employee salary and pension records and have done so in large part since 2011. That's ten years' worth of history and a successful track record."
– Adam Andrzejewski (say: Angie-eff-ski) Founder and Chief Executive Officer of OpenTheBooks.com
MISSION: Every Dime. Online. In Real Time.
Organization: Public Charity organized under IRS section 501(c)(3)
What does OpenTheBooks.com plan to do with the information?
Our mission at OpenTheBooks.com is to post online every dime taxed and spent at every level of government. In 2020, we captured 23 million public employee salary and pension records from nearly every public employee at every level of federal, state and local government across America. For the first time in history, big data and new technologies are converging to empower citizens with the ability to hold the political class accountable for tax and spend decisions.
In 2020, we filed 40,000 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests -- the most in American history -- at the Federal, State and Local levels of government. Our open records request to the Michigan Office of Retirement Systems is just one of these filings.
- This is the fifth year that we’ve filed our request with the Michigan Office of Retirement Services. Citizens can review the monthly retirement annuities from 148,000 Michigan retirees.
Citizens, press, pundits, and politicians can also review:
- 550,000 public employee salaries from every level of Michigan government.
- 66,000 state vendors to Michigan state government including payments.
- All disclosed federal government contracts, grants, direct payments, insurance, farm subsidies and loans flowing into Michigan.
- All disclosed federal employee salaries.
Why the Freedom of Information Act request?
Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously stated, "Sunlight is the best of disinfectants." In order to have robust public policy discussions, everything must be on the table – including public employee pay and pension data. One of the largest state (taxpayer) creditors in Michigan is the government employees and retirees. Therefore, the pay, perquisites, pensions and management of public employees effects the delivery of education, public safety, soft social safety-net, and every government service.
Even if there is a mix of public and private dollars contributed to a public pension, taxpayers are guaranteeing the entire formula.
Why post retiree names?
Having public employee and retiree names is crucial to thorough oversight – including who received what from which government employer.
At the state and local level, our organization at the website OpenTheBooks.com has demonstrated the public interest benefit of illuminating pension data. Thirty-two states including the union strongholds of California, Illinois, New York and Oregon have transparency of public employee retirees – including names.
Here are just three examples of pension malfeasance from Illinois:
- In Illinois, we caught a pair of union lobbyists who substitute taught for one day in the public schools, retired, and started collecting their $1 million lifetime pensions – despite a law expressly designed to stop them.
- Former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar (R) double dipped pension systems: General Assembly pension ($175,951 per year) and University Retirement System pension ($85,140). After “retiring” from the University of Illinois, he was hired back part time for another $62,769. Last year, Edgar’s total payout from all sources was $323,860.
- The retired deputy chief of staff to former IL Democratic Governor Pat Quinn was supposed to receive a $20,000 annual pension. Instead, she cashed checks totaling $137,000 per year. The former deputy to the governor was overpaid by $347,000 before a good-government hawk exposed the mistake.
What fields of information are posted and where?
This is our fifth year posting names, (last) employer, year, and monthly annuity amount (or salary amount) for Michigan Office of Retirement Services and other systems in Michigan at OpenTheBooks.com.
Adam Andrzejewski (say: Angie-eff-ski) is the CEO/founder of OpenTheBooks.com. Before dedicating his life to public service, Adam co-founded HomePages Directories, a $20 million publishing company (1997-2007). His works have been featured on Good Morning America, ABC World News Tonight, C-SPAN, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, FOX News, CNN, National Public Radio (NPR), Forbes, and many other national media.
Today, OpenTheBooks.com is the largest private repository of U.S. public-sector spending. Mission: post "every dime, online, in real time." In 2020, OpenTheBooks.com captured $6 trillion government expenditures, including nearly all disclosed federal government spending; 49 of 50 state checkbooks; and 23 million public employee salary and pension records from 50,000 public bodies across America.
The group's aggressive transparency and forensic auditing of government spending has led to the assembly of grand juries, indictments, and successful prosecutions; congressional briefings, hearings, and subpoenas; Government Accountability Office (GAO) audits; Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports; federal legislation; and much more.
Our Honorary Chairman - In Memoriam is U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, MD: RIP: March 2020.
The President's Budget To Congress FY2021 included two oversight reports from OpenTheBooks.com. The budget cited the organization by name, bullet-pointed their findings, and footnoted/hyperlinked to their reports.
Posted on YouTube, Andrzejewski's presentation, The Depth of the Swamp, at the Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar 2020 in Naples, Florida received 2.3 million views.
Andrzejewski has spoken at the Columbia School of Journalism, Harvard Law School and the law schools at Georgetown and George Washington regarding big data journalism and forensic auditing. As a senior policy contributor at Forbes, since 2014, Adam has nearly 14 million pageviews on 160 published investigations.
Andrzejewski is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.