The Public Accountability Initiative (PAI) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan watchdog research group focused on corporate and government accountability. We specialize in conducting and facilitating investigative, public interest research on power and corruption at the intersection of business and government. We are particularly focused on bringing transparency to the role corporate power plays in shaping public policy.
PAI got its start by launching LittleSis.org (the opposite of Big Brother), a database and research platform that tracks information on powerful people and organizations in the US. LittleSis is used by journalists, academics, and activists researching and challenging networks of power and influence. Data is maintained by a growing community of volunteer editors, and the technology behind the site is maintained by PAI staff.
PAI also conducts research on corporate and government accountability issues. Our research has exposed major conflicts of interest, uncovered massive boondoggles, debunked sham industry-funded studies, and shone a light on how corporate power shapes policy around a range of issues at the regional and national level. Though we focus on a wide range of topics, we are focused on several topics right now: the oil and gas industry’s role in shaping the debate around fracking; the growing political influence of the financial sector; and power at the regional level.
Finally, we also conduct trainings for researchers, activists and journalists interested in learning how to research power networks, and particularly corporate power. Drop us a line if you are interested in setting up a training with us.
PAI receives financial support from foundations, individuals, unions, and other nonprofits. We also provide some fee-for-service research support to nonprofit organizations. We list funders who give more than $1,000 here.
PAI is based in Buffalo, with additional staff in New York City, Philadelphia, and San Juan.