Budget blues, shoddy services, pension perils, dubious deals, and pollution problems — just a sampling of the concerns and controversies the Better Government Association investigated this past year.

In all, the BGA – on our website and with media partners, including the Sun-Times – aired and published more than 100 stories and columns on government waste, mismanagement, inefficiency and alleged corruption around the state of Illinois.

In what’s become a year-end tradition, we recently listed our Top Ten Investigations of public agencies and the officials who run them.

These investigations stand out because they identify problems that involve millions of tax dollars, put safety and the environment at risk, and benefit insiders — not taxpayers.

Among the highlights:

These “big” stories are important — no question about it — but they don’t represent everything we do.

We also investigated suburban police misconduct, misuse of state grant funds, legislative conflicts of interest and water pollution concerns.

Top Ten Investigations Of 2014

We uncovered problems at the city’s animal care department, the CTA pension fund, suburban municipalities, the Cook County Circuit Court Clerk’s office, and many other places. Examples include:

None of these investigations made our “Top Ten” list, but the work is just as important because good government is everyone’s right.

And the abuse of hard-earned tax dollars isn’t acceptable in any agency anywhere, regardless of size.

So when we discover glaring examples, we do our best to shine a light on them, hold the responsible public officials accountable, and demand reforms.

That’s our mission.

2014 was a good year. We told a lot of important stories, many in partnership with the Sun-Times.

But there’s much more to investigate and uncover, because good government is still a dream, not a reality.

So we’ll double down in 2015.

And that’s a New Year’s pledge from all of us at the BGA.

Andy Shaw is President & CEO of the Better Government Association. He can be reached at ashaw@bettergov.org or 312-386-9097.