Impact

Journalism in the Public Interest

Impact has been at the core of ProPublica’s mission since we launched in 2008, and it remains the principal yardstick for our success today. Our investigative journalism does more than expose wrongdoing and injustice; we intend for it to spark real-world change.

We’ve written a whole white paper on the topic, and examples of how our stories have produced such change — from the resignation of corrupt officials to the passage of new laws — are compiled in our annual reports. On this page, you’ll find our reporting on the impact of our work.

Featured Impact

Senate Investigation Criticizes the IRS for Failing to Oversee Free Filing Program

Millions of Americans have spent billions on TurboTax and other tax prep that they shouldn’t have. The Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations recommends the IRS advertise the free filing option.

Sen. Burr Faces DOJ Investigation for Selling a Fortune in Stocks Right Before the Market Crashed

The investigation comes after ProPublica reported that the North Carolina lawmaker unloaded a significant portion of his total stock holdings before the coronavirus sell-off in the stock market.

The Trump Administration Is Backing Out of a $647 Million Ventilator Deal After ProPublica Investigated the Price

The government overpaid by hundreds of millions for Philips ventilators, says a House investigation spurred by ProPublica reporting. Now that deal is off and Congress is scrutinizing other coronavirus deals made by trade adviser Peter Navarro.

Grace, Black Teen Jailed for Not Doing Her Online Coursework, Is Released

Grace’s story, first published by ProPublica Illinois, prompted outrage and debate across the country. Though a judge refused to set the girl free, the Michigan Court of Appeals ordered her immediate release from a juvenile detention facility in Detroit.

More Impact

Utility Companies Owe Millions to This State Regulatory Agency. The Problem? The Agency Can’t Track What It’s Owed.

When a whistleblower alleged that $200 million was missing from the California Public Utilities Commission, the agency says it took steps to collect. Yet an audit uncovered more missing money and cited flaws in the agency’s accounting system.

Hawaii’s Beaches Are Disappearing. New Legislation Could Help ... if It’s Enforced.

A legal loophole allowed wealthy property owners to protect their real estate at the expense of Hawaii’s coastlines. Now, the state Legislature is considering bills to crack down on the destructive practices, but questions around enforcement remain.

“We Have Counties in Deep Trouble”: Oregon Lawmakers Seek to Reverse Timber Tax Cuts That Cost Communities Billions

For decades, corporate timber benefited from tax cuts that devastated local budgets. Lawmakers want change and have filed dozens of bills, making this one of Oregon’s most consequential sessions for forest policy.

After Hundreds of Meatpacking Workers Died From COVID-19, Congress Wants Answers

A key House subcommittee cited reports by ProPublica and other news outlets in launching an investigation into how the country’s meatpacking companies handled the pandemic, which has killed hundreds of workers to date.

Contractor Who Was Awarded $34.5 Million in Government Money and Provided Zero Masks Pleads Guilty to Fraud

The VA and FEMA agreed to pay a first-time vendor in a desperate search for protective equipment. Now Robert Stewart admits he defrauded three federal agencies and lied about being in the Marine Corps.

New York City Council Proposes Sweeping NYPD Reforms

The council has announced a package of bills to reshape the NYPD and improve officer accountability. A City Council member cited a “direct line” from ProPublica’s coverage to the proposals.

Sexual Misconduct Allegations Prompt Another Alaska Attorney General to Resign

Ed Sniffen stepped down as the Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica were preparing an article about his relationship with a 17-year-old girl three decades ago. The state has now launched an investigation into the allegations.

“The People We Serve Are Paying Too Much for Energy:” Virginia Lawmakers Are Targeting Dominion Energy

A bipartisan group of Virginia lawmakers are pushing a legislative package to strengthen oversight of the state’s largest utility, Dominion Energy. The effort could return millions in refunds to customers.

Thousands of Illinois Drivers Would Get Their Licenses Back Under a Criminal Justice Reform Bill

If Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs the measure that lawmakers passed this week, motorists will no longer lose their licenses for unpaid red-light and speed camera tickets.

South Carolina’s Governor Addresses Magistrate Judge Controversy by Urging Changes

An investigation from the Post and Courier and ProPublica found that most judges had no law training and some accepted bribes, stole money and ignored constitutional protections. Now, South Carolina’s governor says he wants change.

CDC Shut Down a Lab Involved in Making Faulty Coronavirus Tests

A CDC lab involved in making faulty coronavirus tests sent to state and local officials early in the pandemic was closed down hours after an October investigation by ProPublica exposed key mistakes the CDC made in manufacturing those tests.

Lavish Bonus? Luxury Trip? Health Benefits Brokers Will Have to Disclose What They Receive From the Insurance Industry

Employers trust brokers to guide them to the best value, but conflicts of interest abound. Tucked into the coronavirus relief bill, a new federal requirement will mandate more transparency.

Magistrate Judges Took Bribes, Stole Money and Mishandled Cases. South Carolina Officials Now Want Reform.

South Carolina lawmakers are eyeing reforms to strengthen oversight of magistrate judges after ProPublica and The Post and Courier found some had been appointed and reappointed despite ethical and professional lapses.

Hawaii Officials Promise Changes to Seawall Policies That Have Quickened Beach Destruction

Seawalls erode Hawaii’s beaches, but the state has been lax about approving them and disorganized about enforcing the law. Officials now pledge action, after a Honolulu Star-Advertiser and ProPublica investigation.

Calls Increase for NYPD Commissioner to Be Stripped of Absolute Authority Over Officer Discipline

Recently released documents show that NYPD commissioners have used their authority to reject the civilian review board’s recommendations and even guilty pleas from officers themselves.

New York Lawmakers Demand NYPD Halt Undercover Sex Trade Stings

A dozen city and state officials also called for the disbandment of vice, the primary division that polices the sex trade; some want investigations into misconduct allegations against the unit, including withholding of evidence.

VA Secretary Focused on Smearing Woman Who Said She Was Sexually Assaulted in a VA Hospital, Probe Finds

An investigation by the Department of Veterans Affairs internal watchdog confirms ProPublica’s reporting that Secretary Robert Wilkie wanted to discredit a congressional aide who said she was attacked in a VA facility last year.

New Bill Proposes Stopping Unemployment Agencies That Make Mistakes From Demanding Money Back

State unemployment agencies have been demanding recipients repay thousands of dollars, even if the agency made the mistake and the money’s already been spent. After ProPublica investigated the practice, legislators are trying to end it.

House Subcommittee Says Proposed Booster Seat Safety Rules Fall Short

Following a ProPublica investigation, members of Congress say “unsafe” booster seats are being sold to parents while regulators fail to protect children.

Following Our Investigation, the Director of Maine’s Public Defense Agency Resigns

Amid mounting criticism of his management of attorneys, finances and the quality of legal services for Maine’s poor, John Pelletier stepped down as executive director of the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services. His last day will be Dec. 11.

Latest Stories from ProPublica