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. Since 2010, 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.
CACS is grounded in and powered by public data. We take a two-pronged approach to making that data relevant to the public – accessibility and approachability.
- Accessible Data: When available, public data is frequently unstructured, dispersed, and/or offline. We first source, aggregate, and clean it before finally making it available online in user-friendly ways.
- Approachable Data: Making data accessible in spreadsheets is a first step, but the data is still unapproachable for many. We make it approachable by visualizing and analyzing it.
CACS has been widely cited for its reports on Stockton’s decade of budgetary decisions prior to its bankruptcy declaration in June 2012, Los Angeles's growing unfunded pension liability, the relative funding levels of California's Higher Education and Corrections systems, and many others. In Spring 2013, our analysts testified before the California State Senate about the impact of rising retiree health costs and potential solutions. In 2013, we conducted pension research and data collection projects for the Stanford Institute of Economic Policy Research and the California HealthCare Foundation.
Both the state of Georgia and the U.S. House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training have previously 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.
Our research and data have appeared in various media outlets, including Bloomberg, Reuters, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, ABC, Fox, NBC, CBS, Fox Business Network, The Huffington Post, The LA Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Jose Mercury News, The Sacramento Bee, The San Diego Union Tribune, and NPR.
California Common Sense
5050 El Camino Real, Suite 210
Los Altos, CA 94022