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Calif. Transparency Website Shuttered

Gov. Brown orders transparency website shut down due to a lack of up-to-date information.

A California government transparency website that originally made state government records more accessible to the public has been shut down. 

California Gov. Jerry Brown shut down the website Reporting Transparency in Government Tuesday, Nov. 2, partly because it had not been properly updated since former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger left office last January, said Evan Westrup, a spokesman for the Governor’s Office. 

Schwarzenegger’s administration launched the site, but it currently no longer had functionality, Westrup said.

According to a message now displayed when users visit the site, information previously found on the site is now accessible elsewhere. The message provides four links to some of that content.

“The links that we posted on the website are a direct resource for individuals who might have previously visited this transparency website taking that information,” Westrup said. “Now we’re directing them to specific websites where they can go to the source of that information.”

The four links provide information from the Fair Political Practices Commission, which posts the statements of economic interests for constitutional officers, legislators and others; the State Controller’s Office, which provides information on salary and other compensation for public employees; the Department of General Services eProcurement website, which provides information on the award of contracts for goods, services and IT; and lastly, the Bureau of State Audits, which provides information on audits and reviews of state agencies.

“This is about ensuring that people are going to the primary resource and we’re ensuring that that information remains available,” Westrup said. “All of it continues to remain available through those channels.”

Schwarzenegger passed Executive Order S-08-09 stating by June 2009, state departments were mandated to post audit data to the Reporting Transparency in Government website. In addition, Schwarzenegger passed Executive Order S-20-09 mandating state departments to post information including accountability reports, evaluations, inspections and other activities to the transparency site as well.

Last month, Brown passed Executive Order B-12-11, which rescinded both S-08-09 and S-20-09. Executive Order B-12-11 mandated that agencies and departments provide as much information as possible on their various contracts through the eProcurement website.

Brown’s recently passed executive order also requests that “other entities of state government not under my direct executive authority work to promote governmental transparency by making information about their contracts readily available to the public in a cost-effective manner.”

According to local media, transparency lobbyist Phillip Ung is pushing to have the decision to take down the website reversed.