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California Bill Would Reveal Contract Details to the Public

New legislation brings the issue of government transparency in California back to the forefront.

Back in 2009, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger created, by executive order, a transparency website containing detailed information on the workings of state government.

But in 2011, Gov. Brown vetoed AB 172 that would have codified the site into law. The site now carries a notice saying that the data formerly on the transparency site is available from the Fair Political Practices Commission, the State Controller’s Office, the Department of General Services’ eProcurement site, and the Bureau of State Audits. Assemblyman Mike Eng, who sponsored AB 172, saw two other transparency bills (AB 1899 and AB 756) shot down as well.
Then, in 2013, a campaign finance disclosure bill sponsored by Sen. Leland Yee also fell to a veto.
But the subject of transparency just won’t go away. AB 1578, sponsored by Assembly Member Pan, requires that the Department of General Services “Shall establish and maintain an online database of personal services contracts that is accessible to the public, searchable, sortable, and downloadable.” The bill goes on to say that the database shall include:
  • Description of the personal services contract and services being purchased.
  • Name of the department, agency, or division contracting for the service.
  • Name of the contractor and any and all subcontractors.
  • Effective and expiration dates of the contract.
  • Annual amount paid to the contractor in past fiscal years and the current fiscal year under the contract, by funding source.
  • Annual amount proposed to be paid to the contractor in the fiscal years beyond the approved budget.
  • Total projected cost of the contract for all fiscal years, by funding source.
And, as noted in previous TechWire articles, California CIO Carlos Ramos mentioned at a recent conference that the state was working on an open data website. And while open data does not necessarily open everything to public scrutiny, it does look like the subject may heat up again. What effects will AB 1578 — if it passes — have on IT contracting and outsourcing? Stay tuned.
This story was originally published on TechWire.
Wayne E. Hanson served as a writer and editor with e.Republic from 1989 to 2013, having worked for several business units including Government Technology magazine, the Center for Digital Government, Governing, and Digital Communities. Hanson was a juror from 1999 to 2004 with the Stockholm Challenge and Global Junior Challenge competitions in information technology and education.