One of my goals as a legislator has been to make the workings of state government, especially in the area of its expenses, more transparent to the citizens of the Commonwealth. A key part of that effort to promote transparency is the Pennsylvania Web Accountability and Transparency (PENNWATCH) Act (Act 18 of 2011).
That measure created a website and searchable database that gives the people of the Commonwealth the opportunity to fully monitor the fiscal activities of state government: www.pennwatch.pa.gov.
Prior to the enactment of the PENNWATCH Act — and perhaps simply because of an entrenched institutional aversion to change — Pennsylvania lagged in its efforts to fully implement and utilize the capabilities provided through new technologies.
However, change was inevitable and an increased public demand for access to information via the web led to an evolution in thinking on the part of government at all levels – from Washington D.C. to most local school boards.
The PENNWATCH website is a strong complement to the government reform measures that have been approved by the General Assembly and the rules adopted by the Senate over the years to improve the way Pennsylvania discloses information to the residents of the Commonwealth.
The searchable database on the PENNWATCH website provides transparency to state spending and enables the people to see the interactions between Commonwealth agencies and their individual vendors.
The ledgers are open to allow citizens to monitor spending. Personnel records are open to provide basic information about staffing across state departments and agencies.
This information empowers the people by holding state government accountable for its expenditures.
I strongly believe that PENNWATCH is an excellent tool for Pennsylvania to continue its efforts to make state government more transparent and accountable.
In closing, I encourage local residents to visit my website, www.senatorlaughlin.com, and my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/senatorlaughlin/, to keep up to date with state government news and learn more about state services and agencies.
Contact: Matt Azeles firstname.lastname@example.org