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Pennsylvania launches PennWATCH

By Fritz Mayer
January 2, 2013

HARRISBURG, PA — Pennsylvania has launched the website PennWATCH, which officials say is “your window into Pennsylvania state government.” The site allows visitors in-depth information about the state budget and revenues, how that money is being spent and the results that the tax dollars are achieving.

Governor Tom Corbett signed the Pennsylvania Web Accountability and Transparency Act into law on June 30, 2011, providing for the establishment of a “searchable budget database-driven Internet website detailing certain information concerning taxpayer expenditures and investments.”

“Pennsylvanians deserve to know how their tax dollars are being allocated and spent,” Corbett said when the site was launched on December 20. “PennWATCH gives citizens unprecedented access to information on the state budget, revenues, spending and workforce. This website represents a historic leap forward in openness and transparency in Pennsylvania state government.”

“The Office of Open Records applauds the launch of PennWATCH,” Office of Open Records Executive Director Terry Mutchler said. “Our staff had the opportunity to review PennWATCH and the effort that went into making it possible. This new tool, in conjunction with the Right to Know Law, gives citizens greater access to their government’s records. That’s exactly what the General Assembly intended: greater accountability and transparency.”

PennWATCH allows users to view appropriations to agencies and funds from the state budget, as well as detailed information on payments made by agencies, including the name and address of the recipient. PennWATCH also provides details on the number of employees in each agency, as well as their annual salaries. Employee compensation information will be posted in mid January.

PennWATCH also provides links to other state transparency resources, such as state contracts, lobbyist and campaign finance reports, and Recovery Act spending. There is also a glossary, frequently asked questions, and links to state government websites.