Created in accordance with new Right-to-Know law provision authored by Sen. Jake Corman
(HARRISBURG) – Pennsylvania Treasurer Robin L. Wiessmann yesterday publicly unveiled a searchable database that allows the public greater access to state government contract information through the Pennsylvania Treasury Department’s Web site, patreasury.org. Sen. Jake Corman (R-34) in June of 2007 introduced Senate Bill 914 that required the posting of state contracts on an on-line searchable database, allowing the public to have greater access how their tax dollars are spent.
In January of 2008, Corman amended Senate Bill 1, the Open Records Law, in the Senate State Government Committee to include his language in the bill. In February of 2008, Governor Rendell signed Senate Bill 1 into law.
Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, prime sponsor of Senate Bill 1 said in January, “The importance of giving the public the opportunity to search and review state contracts cannot be overestimated. I commend Sen. Corman for his forward-thinking proposal and am pleased that it was incorporated into Senate Bill 1.”
The Treasury Department created the Contracts e-Library in response to the Right-to-Know Law, which dramatically revised prior Pennsylvania law regulating the rights of the public to obtain information from government about its activities. The new law expands the information available to the public, establishes a presumption in favor of disclosure, and creates an Office of Open Records to facilitate any disputes about disclosure of information. In addition, the new law enlarges the number of government agencies, boards, commissions and other bodies that are subject to requirements to make information available to the public.
The information to populate the Pennsylvania Contracts e-Library will be uploaded into the system by each state government agency, including the state Senate. While the Pennsylvania Treasury Department will be responsible for the system’s infrastructure and maintenance, the agencies are ultimately responsible for providing contract information for the database.
To aid in public use of the database, the Corman’s language required agencies to supply summaries with every contract for easier access and identification. In addition, when searching for a contract, the Pennsylvania Contracts e-Library will also provide links to any related contracts, such as amendments or purchase orders, to allow users to more readily track the evolution of an agency’s transactions with a particular vendor.
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