In a post at The Big Picture, blogger Invictus writes about a recent report from New York State Attorney General and Democratic candidate for governor Andrew Cuomo's recent report on public pension padding. This might come as a surprise coming from a Democrat like Cuomo, whose party is often heavily backed by public employee unions, but public pensions are wildly underfunded and also tied up in huge corruption scandals (see: Rattner, Steve and Richardson, Bill).
As cities and states have to come to terms with their budgets during what appears to be a non-recovering, post-recession economy they will have to look at ways to fill this gap including pension and civil service reform.
Invictus' post mentions the SeeThroughNY site launched by The Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank in New York City, as a repository to research the spending done by the state:
This site is a remarkable repository of data detailing exactly where New Yorkers’ tax dollars are going, right down to the individual salaries of politicians, school administrators and teachers, law enforcement personnel and scores of other civil servants and public employees. It also opens the kimono on contracts with vendors, as well as allowing for side-by-side comparisons, or “benchmarking,” of towns, villages, school districts, and counties.
As more and more attention focuses on the budget holes at the state and local level and where to raise revenues and cut costs sites that provide the public a clear accounting of the state's finances are going to become more and more important.
The same can said about databases that track the spending and might of the powerful. The cloak and dagger money spent in our elections, the lobbying of public officials, the contributions and the public trading of assets and contracts all need to be revealed and disclosed online.