October 2011Volume 13Number 1PDF icon PDF version (for best printing)


Let the sun shine

Sunshine, the Illinois Accountability Project, under the Governor’s Office and with the support of the General Assembly by way of Public Act 96-225, effective January 1, 2010, is intended to bring State government “into the light.” Sunshine touts the slogan “Bringing Your Government Into the Light.” Found at <http://www2.illinois.gov/sunshine/>, Sunshine is organized into several categories that are to expand in time. These include State Government, Education, Health & Safety, Elections, Transportation, and Consumer.

The link to State Government includes the subcategory of Transparency & Accountability Portal, where you may research Expenditures, Financial Disclosures, Contracts and Payroll. Under Payroll, you may also search by State employee name or title to determine salary. <http://www2.illinois.gov/sunshine/Pages/Payroll.html>.

The State Government link is full of a variety of financial information, such as DCEO Grant Tracking, Federal Stimulus Spending, Lobbyist Registrations, Statements of Economic Interest, Audit Reports, Comptroller's Open Book, and FY11 Budget Process.

Under Education, you may obtain information about subjects from School Bus Inspections to Teacher Certifications. The Consumer category provides information regarding consumer complaints against businesses, as well as disciplinary actions against attorneys.

The site simplifies the process of finding information directly, without having to navigate different State agency sites or dig down many layers into the State’s main Web site. Moreover, the site even asks for feedback to improve ease of use.

Along the same lines, the State has also recently launched <http://data.illinois.gov/>. “The Illinois Data Portal is the first phase of a much larger effort. The Data Portal will continue to grow in Agency participation and soon will be a great foundation of data sets that can be used for more productive purposes.” Its stated intent is “born from transparency and the hope that we can induce for the first time ever an opportunity for citizen involvement in deriving solutions to some of the problems in government.” Data sets include such diverse information as retail sales, daily traffic counts, lottery sales by zip code, public and private beaches, and weigh stations. What seems novel is that this information, probably accessible by agency inquiry, is readily available for the public’s use.

Another site of interest is the revamped Illinois Comptroller’s Web site at <http://www.ioc.state.il.us/>. The site contains a Financial Inquiries link, where you may access information about State Vendor Payments, Expenditures, Cash Balances, and Prevailing Wage Inquiries. These links are detailed and very explanatory. The link to Fiscal Condition similarly provides detailed information regarding topics such as Unemployment Rates, Bond Rating and State Budget Report. Finally, the Resource Library hosts an impressive array of resources including bulletins and manuals.

It seems a new day has dawned for the idea of transparency and efficiency. ■

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