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Posted on Sun, Oct 23, 2011 : 5:58 a.m.

Ann Arbor journalist launches government travel tracking website funded by Mark Cuban

By Nathan Bomey


Ann Arbor-based journalist Chris Carey launched to track government spending.

Photo courtesy of

Funded by billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, a veteran newspaper journalist based in Ann Arbor has launched a website featuring databases that provide access to government travel spending records.

Chris Carey, a former reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch who moved to Ann Arbor in 2005 for a journalism fellowship at the University of Michigan, is leading a startup called

The site offers searchable records detailing the travel expenditures of federal officials and Congressional leaders — part of a series of web-based journalism startups Carey has launched from his home.

The project officially went live a year ago but it's taken time to build a critical mass of databases because government agencies take a long time to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests — and it can take time to translate their responses into user-friendly digital databases.

JunketSleuth's "main purpose is transparency and accountability," Carey said. "People in Washington are saying we have this terrible financial crisis now, both with annual budget deficits and long-term federal debt issues. And yet some people in Washington are spending like there's no problem."

Among the databases already available are records from the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Energy, Federal Communications Commission and Securities and Exchange Commission.

"Anyone can go in and look through millions of travel records. You can see who went to Paris, who went to London, who went to Aspen and you can ask what government purpose was served by going to those destinations," Carey said.

The website, which is set up as a nonprofit and is not accepting advertising, is funded by Cuban — who also backed Carey's previous projects, bank bailout fund tracker and stock fraud tracker

JunketSleuth is contracting with high-profile journalists throughout the country — including Pulitzer Prize winner Russell Carollo — to analyze the databases and generate in-depth content.

Carey said he would measure success by the impact of JunketSleuth's databases and coverage. He said some government agencies have already said they'll consider publishing travel records on their own sites to avoid processing annual FOIA requests.

Carey, who moved to Ann Arbor in 2005 for U-M's Knight-Wallace Fellowship program and never left, said annual government travel spending is estimated at $15 billion.

One of JunketSleuth's early findings is that members of Congress and their staff are more likely than government bureaucrats to fly first class.

"Even on relatively short trips," Carey said. "Most government agencies are more conservative in how they fly and how much they spend."

He said the site's records would be limited to federal travel spending unless additional funding surfaces to allow the pursuit of state government travel records.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.


Joe Edwards

Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 2:31 a.m.

Folks can now look up the salaries and soon, travel records, of all federal employees on the internet. Doesn't each federal agency have an Inspector General responsible for ensuring the agency complies with the relative laws/policies and investigating misconduct? Is that system not working? I'm all for transparency, but who in their right mind would ever want to be a federal employee now?!?! Careful what you wish for...


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 12:41 a.m.

Godsbreath- Why don't you explain, in detail, why you think it's a bad thing for public servants to explain why and how they traveled at taxpayer expense? 99.9% of the public supports this one. You will have to twist a might strange pretzel to get around that.


Sun, Oct 23, 2011 : 5:51 p.m.

Let's start with Nancy and Michelle.

say it plain

Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 12:38 a.m.

yeah, the one 'sensitive' to utter stupidity ;-)

The Picker

Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 12:31 a.m.

Dr. Skotsky, I think you've touched a nerve!

say it plain

Sun, Oct 23, 2011 : 8:44 p.m.

Or are you referring to your desire to go waaay back in the records and see how nancy *reagan* bought, for instance, all that fancy new white house china lol?!

say it plain

Sun, Oct 23, 2011 : 8:44 p.m. supposin' they spend government money on hats and pantyhose, eh?! what a blatantly misogynist addition to the anti-democrat rhetoric, how lovely!


Sun, Oct 23, 2011 : 3:27 p.m.

Whether this author under anonymous surname or someone else entirely, writes above "please tell me you understand the difference between government waste and corporate waste, both of which exist in spades. no one can be that naive...can they?" Per such, the better questions involve how is this a straight faced "business director's" assignment and not continuation of "director's" myopic servitude to extremist administration that opposes abiding by the rule of law. We all see this with everything he uploads. He can't help but fall over himself to close so behemoth of Richard Dale Snyder's legitimacy gap. Professional reporting is therein forsaken and the subterfuge continues. Obviously he is failing at his only true assignment. Hence, this morning's utilizing of bandwidth. Professional reporting is not being required by this particular uploader. So I will just leave you to continue your ignorantio elanchi.


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 6:09 a.m.

not an angry question. So where does that leave you? Don't over extend yourself, The'

The Picker

Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 12:27 a.m.


Angry Redneck

Sun, Oct 23, 2011 : 10:29 p.m.

Are you capable of answering a direct question?


Sun, Oct 23, 2011 : 1:58 p.m.

Anyone that has a problem with this will have to do some explaining to make their reasoning clear! Anytime we as the suppliers of the funds can get a clearer picture of where the waste is it is a good thing.

Ron Granger

Sun, Oct 23, 2011 : 1:45 p.m.

This is excellent. I'd like to see something similar for government credit card spending - especially at the local level.


Sun, Oct 23, 2011 : 12:07 p.m.

Visited the website and was not surprised regarding the excessive travel by federal government officials. Apparently they feel they are "entitled" to spend as much of the taxpayers dollars as they wish. Please continue with the database so the public can become more aware of how the government is spending our shortage of funds. In fact, there should be a stoppage of travel until the deficient is addressed.

Buster W.

Sun, Oct 23, 2011 : 12:01 p.m.

This is a great thing!

Alan Goldsmith

Sun, Oct 23, 2011 : 11:47 a.m.

"The site offers searchable records detailing the travel expenditures of federal officials and Congressional leaders — part of a series of web-based journalism startups Carey has launched from his home." Any chance we'll get this for SPARK?


Sun, Oct 23, 2011 : 10:07 a.m.

*Shocker Alert* Nathen Bomey champions the hectoring the People's representatives while the corporate money spigot plunges them into uber-graft.


Sun, Oct 23, 2011 : 12:04 p.m.

please tell me you understand the difference between government waste and corporate waste, both of which exist in spades. no one can be that naive...can they?