Lembo’s transparency initiative expands to quasi-public agencies
Want to check how much the Connecticut Lottery Corporation contributed to the state’s budget in 2018?
How about the total private investment the Connecticut Green Bank attracted for the state’s energy market?
The answers — $345 million and $266 million, respectively — might require a few clicks, but can now be found through one website thanks to new legislation adopted this year.
State Comptroller Kevin P. Lembo’s OpenConnecticut initiative, a transparency program designed to make financial data easily available to the general public, now includes quasi-public agencies.
Like most state departments and agencies, quasi-public entities now must provide checkbook-level payment information, payroll data and retiree pensions to the comptroller’s office.
Lembo said many quasi-publics already voluntarily provided information to his office, but some were not consistently submitting information.
“When it comes to open government, voluntary agreements are no replacement for a law that makes our commitment clear – that we believe the public has a right to know how their dollars are being invested,” Lembo said. “I am grateful to all of the quasi-public agencies that have worked cooperatively with my office in recent years to provide financial information on a completely voluntary basis, and I look forward to continuing to work with them to reach a new level of transparency.”
“Quasi-public” is a term used to denote public entities created by the legislature but whose operations are patterned largely after private businesses.
“They enjoy a very special place in state government, a certain rarified air,” Lembo said, adding that they nonetheless are creations of the legislature, oversee public funds, and should be as transparent as possible.
The comptroller launched the OpenConnecticut initiative in 2013 and it now features six main components:
- OpenBudget allows visitors to explore basic revenue and budget data.
- The TaxCredits page allows visitors to track revenue relief given to Connecticut businesses.
- The DIY [Do It Yourself] Revenue Calculator enables users to explore and calculate the value of potential tax changes or spending cuts.
- OpenPayroll provides access to most state employees’ salaries.
- And OpenPension, which was launched last year, gives viewers the ability to research state retirement benefits.
With the addition of quasi-public agencies, which can be researched directly at osc.ct.gov/OpenCT/quasi.html, most of the executive branch — and most state government operations — are covered through the OpenConnecticut initiative.
The system still does not include some higher education units, such as the University of Connecticut Health Center. The legislative and judicial branches also are not part of the system.
“The work is never finished around transparency,” Lembo said.
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