Many businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies view information as an asset. If elected, how will your administration increase access to this important asset for benefit of the Commonwealth?
We are still waiting for a response from Tom Corbett.
I favor complete availability of all public records, written and broadcast, in any medium, that pertain to public deliberation, in formats easily understandable by the broadest public, and at no cost to nonprofits and private citizens. I’ve been a journalist for 48 years (publisher of newspapers, articles, blogs, reports), dedicated to fostering an informed public, to strengthen the democratic process. The Freedom of Information Act was prompted by Ralph Nader, our foremost Green Party advocate.
Searchable databases of government sites is critical to informing general public and businesses. Searchable databases are critical to holding government accountable and exposing inefficiencies and corruption. For example, search engines that could search for “legal fees paid” and generate a report with all the names, amounts dates and copies of contracts would be very useful. Cross referencing to names of clients who have been awarded government contracts and campaign contributions by both client vendors, their campaign contributions and the contributions of their law firms would be helpful to discover corruption. Correlating contracts and campaign contributions online would have exposed the Turnpike contracts for campaign contributions. I think actual salaries of all government employees need to be posted, that is, the actual amount paid to each, as well as cost of benefits. The check register online with search engine that would show who gets paid and how much would be useful. The campaign contribution website of the Department of State is cumbersome and difficult to use and needs to be made more “searchable” and user friendly.
Information access can be improved in several ways: * Subject all state contracts over a certain amount ($1,000,000, for example) to a cooling-off period during which the award and the justification would be publicly available; * Require each state agency to dedicate an appropriate portion of its budget on making its operations public; * Establish a web site for citizens to collaboratively submit petitions for specific data to be released. Each month, the top ten citizen requests for data, in terms of valid signatures, would be expedited;
I want to ensure the websites of government agencies are as comprehensive as possible in terms of data availability and as simple as possible to navigate. As someone who invested in technology-based businesses, I recognize the benefits of easy access to information. The democratization of information can be a great tool that empowers citizens. Expanding open data practices will be one of my information technology initiatives as governor. Fortunately, Pennsylvania has a number of platforms on which to build and improve. As treasurer, I have played an important role in administering one of those platforms: the state’s e-contracts database, which allows users to find agreements between state agencies and vendors. Additionally, the state administers the PennWatch system, which is a firstgeneration open data-type portal for the commonwealth. On top of these two, the state budget office maintains an online performance management tool to track how well the commonwealth meets its operational goals. As governor, I intend to build on these platforms and find ways to integrate the information each contains in order to provide one seamless resource for users that spans all of state government.
I believe the first step to needed to be taken to improve and enhance the sharing of data is to audit and inventory all information that is available. Before we can create and execute an efficient plan to provide access to the defined open data information, we must know the extent of how much information exists, what format is the information available (hard copy, electronic files, etc.) and where the information is currently stored. As Governor, I will direct a comprehensive inventory of all data and request from experts the options available to my administration to create an efficient, cost-effective process to provide access to and maintain all the data. In addition, I will direct the implementation of industry best management practices for a simplified process, with the least amount of constraints possible.
I will modernize online systems for state contract reporting and ensure that application tools are easily accessible online. This will help small businesses more easily navigate the state contracting process and level the playing field in Pennsylvania.
I believe government is strongest when it is operating in a transparent manner, promoting public participation, and encouraging collaboration among all levels of government and with residents, businesses, and nonprofit organizations. I know one way to increase transparency, participation, and collaboration is to open up government and share data and information. In my Fresh Start plan, which was released in February, I call for the creation of an Office of Data Analysis and Program Management. This office will be responsible for overseeing the implementation of an open data plan that includes the creation of an open data web portal, the development of a departmental data catalogue with a schedule for releasing and updating information, departmental-level assistance to help integrate open data into daily activities, and regular public reporting on progress. By breaking down silos and encouraging widespread participation in the policy process, Pennsylvania will be positioned to be a leader of government innovation.