California Common Sense is a non-partisan non-profit dedicated to opening government to the public, developing data-driven policy analysis, and educating citizens about how their governments work.
At CACS, we work to open government to its shareholders – its citizens. We see “government transparency” as extending beyond merely making data available. Rather, government transparency means making government data and processes approachable. We aggregate, interactively visualize, analyze, and distill it into digestible information. CACS has focused on gathering data such as savings for state retiree health care, state employee compensation, state pension costs, local budget, campaign contributions to elected officials, and higher education spending. We have already launched an advanced data transparency portal, revealed underreported spending in the state Assembly, released top quality reports, and placed prominent op-eds. By developing cutting edge interactive data visualizations, we have not only aggregated dispersed data, but we have made it easier for Californians to use and understand.
Most recently, CACS was widely cited for its report that examined and succinctly presented Stockton’s decade of budgetary decisions prior to its bankruptcy declaration in June 2012. As other California cities are nearing and declaring bankruptcy, that analysis is serving as a basis for scrutiny of red flags in other municipalities. CACS further made an impact when it revealed that the high speed rail project could cost California $203 billion, far more than the $68 billion projection frequently cited by the State.
Both the state of Georgia and the U.S. House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training sought out our research. For the latter, CACS uncovered possible savings of $8.1 billion within 44 overlapping training programs. Quite visibly, our analysis of California Assembly data showed $2.75 million in underreporting of personal staff salaries, thereby sparking nationwide media coverage and public scrutiny of the scandal. We have also partnered with the Stanford Institute for Economics and Policy Research to release a series of reports exploring the financial health of California’s government employee pension systems.
California Common Sense has been featured in news outlets such as Bloomberg, Reuters, Fox Business Network, ABC, NBC, CBS, Huffington Post, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Sacramento Bee, San Diego Union Tribune, and KQED.
California Common Sense
5050 El Camino Real, Suite 210
Los Altos, CA 94022