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Transparency bill headed to Quinn

Tryon bill speeds up posting of state data

Published: Saturday, March 8, 2014 11:44 p.m. CDT

A bill to make updates to the state government transparency website happen faster is on its way to Gov. Pat Quinn.

House Bill 1040, sponsored by Rep. Mike Tryon, R-Crystal Lake, moves responsibility for posting data to the Illinois Transparency and Accountability Portal to the governor’s office itself, and mandates all state departments to develop a plan to more quickly get data posted and updated. The portal, created five years ago through another Tryon bill, includes information such as state employees’ pay, state agency expenses and contracts, and local governments’ annual financial reports.

Tryon said he envisioned the website having almost instantaneous updates, but said it has fallen far short – in some cases, up to five months behind. His bill moves responsibility for the portal out of the Department of Central Management Services, which is in charge of state government’s IT needs.

“My original version was, when you write a check, it’s put online. When there’s a contract that’s executed, it’s put online. Not in five months, but as soon as possible. I think what’s happening is there has not been consistent posting requirements,” Tryon said.

The governor will appoint a chief information officer from among his existing staff to oversee the changes, and to handle requests from citizens who cannot find the information they are looking for online. The original version authorized the governor to create the position, but the Senate amended it to ensure that the officer is an existing employee.

House Bill 1040 passed both houses unanimously. State Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, was chief co-sponsor in the House, and Sen. Pam Althoff, R-McHenry, was its chief sponsor in the Senate.

The accountability portal is one of several pro-transparency initiatives, such as much-improved Illinois Freedom of Information Act, that came following the arrest and impeachment of former Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Tryon, one of several lawmakers looking to reform Chicago mass-transit agencies in the wake of several corruption scandals, filed a bill last month requiring them to create an accountability portal of their own. If approved, the portal would list salaries, expenses, contracts and other information for the Regional Transportation Authority, Metra, Pace and the Chicago Transit Authority.

That bill, House Bill 5842, is in the House Mass Transit Committee, where Tryon is the highest-ranking Republican.

On the Net

You can read the text of House Bill 1040 at www.ilga.gov.

The Illinois Transparency and Accountability Portal can be found at accountability.illinois.gov.

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