National Priorities Project

Annual Report 2011

Vision of an
Engaged Democracy

A People’s Guide to the Federal Budget

Our Mission

National Priorities Project makes our complex federal budget transparent and accessible so people can exercise their right and responsibility to oversee and influence how their tax dollars are spent.

Big Picture


Letter from the Executive Director

Greetings Dear Friends,

The promise of a nation lives in its people. In 2011, National Priorities Project fought for a United States democracy worthy of our nation's people – a democracy as good as its promise.

On behalf of National Priorities Project's board and team, I invite you to take a moment to reflect on NPP's impact in 2011. We're dedicating this Annual Report to NPP's founder and great visionary, Greg Speeter (1943 - 2012).

As high-stakes conversations about the ways in which our nation raises and spends tax dollars made their way to kitchen tables across the nation, NPP's team became the people's guide to the federal budget – an essential bridge to a document and legislative process that affects the well being of all Americans.

We increased the production of accessible reports and tools, dramatically expanding our reach. And staff members hit the road and the airwaves every single chance we could, building the capacity of our increasingly diverse constituency.

While federal programs funnel thousands of dollars to average Americans, few people realize the extent to which we're all quite intimately connected to federal spending. A recent poll asked 1,400 Americans if they had ever used a government program. Nearly 60 percent said no. Surveyors asked the same respondents if they had used any of 21 different programs – everything from unemployment benefits to home-mortgage interest deductions – and 94 percent said they had used at least one.

The remarkable disparity in understanding can only mean one thing: the impact of the federal budget is dangerously invisible to our neighbors. This prevents them from grasping the immediacy and potential impact of federal decisions, and it leaves them with a woefully inadequate foundation upon which to build their individual response.

A healthy democracy demands that we remedy this situation – and quickly.

In the coming months, look for:

  • A People's Guide to the Federal Budget – Released to coincide with the fiscal year 2013 budget process and the 2012 presidential election, this book will serve as a critical foundation for the novice reader, a reference tool for a more advanced audience, and will be perfect for high school and college classroom use.
  • An expansion of NPP's Federal Priorities database – Through maximizing available technology, NPP will expand our ability to deliver relevant and comprehensive information and give people the tools they need to create localized and accessible analyses that matter most to their families and communities.

At this exquisite moment of opportunity, NPP's work is poised to breathe life into a nearly languishing democracy and create the social and political will to include all voices in the budget debate. The horizon is substantially more expansive than it has been in decades, yet it's clear there's a tremendous amount still to be done to hold Washington lawmakers accountable to an informed electorate.

Join us in 2012 as NPP helps usher in a democracy revival!

With all best wishes,

Jo Comerford
Executive Director