Friday, August 11, 2006

TRACking Federal Enforcement with Statistics: Tax, Immigration, More

Interested in statistics about federal enforcement efforts? Want to know whether tax fraud prosecutions are up, what corporations are most often audited, what the patterns are for prosecutions of federal wildlife laws? TRAC (Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse) is a great source.

TRAC is associated with Syracuse University. Researchers use FOIA to get data sets from the federal government, check them against other sources, analyze the data, and make the results available in different ways. Sometimes the FOIA requests must be backed by litigation -- for instance, Long v. Internal Revenue Service, No. C74-724P (W.D. Wash. April 3, 2006)(Judge Marsha Pechman's order graning TRAC's motion to require the IRS to provide certain statistics). See TRAC's press release (April 4, 2006) and update (May 21, 2006).

Subscribers to the TRACFED service can produce their own detailed reports from TRAC's databases. Various parties -- agencies, public interest groups, journalists, lawyers -- also hire TRAC statisticians to compile reports on different issues.

Some of the information available even without a subscription:

If you explore the site, you'll find much more. You can also sign up for email alerts -- general or immigration -- to learn about new reports as they come out.

I saw a demonstration of this site a few years ago and thought it was great, but I'd forgotten about it until I saw a post in beSpacific about the study of immigration judges today.

Graphic: Federal Tax Prosecutions, from TRAC.

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