A.G. Schneiderman Launches “NY Open Government” Online Tool To Promote Transparency & Accountability

New User-Friendly Expansion Of OAG’s Project Sunlight Increases Transparency Of Campaign Contributions And Lobbying Information

Schneiderman:“NY Open Government” Is A One-Stop-Shop For New Yorkers Demanding Information

Combined Searches Across Databases, Frequent Updates Make Site Comprehensive And Easy-To-Use For Voters, Media & Government Watchdogs

ALBANY— Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman took another major step in his drive to bolster transparency in state government by launching “New York Open Government,” a major expansion of the office’s Project Sunlight website. The new site is designed to help voters, the media and government watchdogs hold state government accountable by providing the public with comprehensive, up-to-date, and user-friendly information on campaign contributions, lobbying, and state contracts.

The new website is now live at: www.nyopengovernment.com

“Secrecy breeds corruption, while transparency generates confidence,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “New York Open Government will help the public keep an eye on what their government is doing in order to deter corruption and increase confidence in the public sector. This site is a one-stop-shop for New Yorkers demanding up-to-date and comprehensive information about their government.”

New York Open Government now allows users to search across multiple databases and display results on one screen. Users can also tailor searches with multiple criteria to easily find what they’re looking for. To facilitate more complex analysis by academic researchers and the media, the site has more options to export data, and significantly more fields of data available. Data will be frequently updated, and new features will encourage users to share information from the database through social media programs.

“We’ve seen the power of social media for democracy movements around the world. By making this tool compatible with multiple media platforms, we hope to empower our own citizens to hold their government accountable,” Attorney General Schneiderman said.

Today’s launch of New York Open Government fulfills a commitment that Schneiderman made as a candidate for Attorney General. The original site debuted in 2007.

Public confidence in the state government has been battered in recent years. At least 20 current or former elected members of the Legislative and Executive branches of the New York State government have either been accused or convicted of crimes in the last decade.

A tool to combat corruption and restore the public's trust in government, New York Open Government follows several other public integrity initiatives by Attorney General Schneiderman. In his first weeks in office, he created a new Taxpayer Protection Bureau to root out fraud and return money illegally stolen from New York taxpayers and their government in these tough fiscal times. He also appointed public integrity officers in each of his 13 regional offices, providing residents a place to go to report complaints of government corruption without the fear of local politics influencing the outcome. Attorney General Schneiderman also formed a partnership with the state Comptroller that significantly expanded the A.G.’s jurisdiction over cases involving the abuse of public funds.

Veteran good government advocates in New York State applauded the Attorney General for promoting accountability and transparency by launching New York Open Government.

Russ Haven, Legislative Counsel, NYPIRG, said, “In the information age, New Yorkers want and expect access to the hard data that shows what their government is up to. Attorney General Schneiderman’s New York Open Government website provides a ‘one-stop shopping’ place for average New Yorkers as well as sophisticated researchers to find information about elected officials and those seeking to influence them. The features will make it easier to access, organize and ultimately make sense of information as never before. This is an important resource for New Yorkers trying to keep tabs on government.”

Susan Lerner, Executive Director, Common Cause/NY, said, “New York Open Government is an important resource for New Yorkers who want to know how their government works. We applaud Attorney General Schneiderman for helping to bring New York's information services into the 21st century, and significantly improving access to publically available data. Government transparency is essential to an engaged electorate."

Mark Ladov, Counsel, Brennan Center, Democracy and Justice Programs, said, “Transparency and accountability are important to ensure that New York State government works for the people. But critical information about political spending, lobbying and the legislative process can be complicated to search, distill and digest. The Brennan Center commends Attorney General Schneiderman for creating a website that simplifies this process, and helps New Yorkers learn more about their government and its programs."

John Kaehny, Executive Director, Reinvent Albany, "We’re excited by Attorney General Schneiderman’s New York Open Government website. We applaud the attorney general’s efforts to harness the immense power of the internet to increase government transparency and accountability. We look forward to working with A.G. Schneiderman to help New York Open Government achieve its full potential as a potent tool for restoring trust and confidence in our state government.”

Andrew Rasiej, Founder of Personal Democracy Media and Chairman of the NY Tech Meetup, “With New York Open Government, Attorney General Schneiderman is showing clear leadership in making to government more transparent and accountable. By updating New York Open Government online tools and features A.G. Schneiderman is demonstrating that in the 21st century, the public's access to information regarding how their government officials act must be easily searchable and accessible online.”

Karen Scharff, Executive Director, Citizens Action New York, said, “For too long, Albany has been a bastion of pay to play money and corporate influence. With New York Open Government, Attorney General Schneiderman is finally giving citizens a powerful tool to understand—and ultimately reform—how our state government works.”      

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