This summer, the Empire Center for Public Policy celebrated nine years of successful work by SeeThroughNY.net, our groundbreaking government transparency website.
In just the past year, SeeThroughNY has let New Yorkers know about:
- The eight MTA employees who last year each pocketed more than $200,000 in overtime;
- The $7 million in public funds state lawmakers spent on campaign-style mailers before the 2016 election;
- The more than 800 people who have special permission to double-dip, collecting both a public pension and a government paycheck;
- The state Senate’s $2 million office furniture purchase; and
- More than $2 billion in pork-barrel grants steered by individual elected officials and financed with money borrowed without voter approval.
Today, SeeThroughNY’s searchable databases include:
- payrolls dating back to 2008 for every level of government—state, county, city, town and village—as well as every school district, special district and public authority in New York;
- names and maximum benefits for all state, local government and school district pension recipients;
- copies of all teacher, police and firefighter union contracts, as well as the employment contracts of all school superintendents;
- BenchmarkingNY, a unique online tool allowing taxpayers to compare spending and tax levels among local governments and school districts;
- a New York State Budget app, allowing users to search and compare “Where the Money Comes From” and “Where the Money Goes,” as well as historic and tax trends, for fiscal years stretching back to 2012 through projected amounts for fiscal 2021;
- a breakdown of thousands of individual line items of state government pork barrel expenditures allocated through two dozen different program accounts;
- the names of retired New York state and local employees who are not yet 65 and have applied for or received a waiver allowing them to earn a salary as a public employee while also collecting a full pension; and
- teachers salary data, showing the median and statistical breakdown in each school district.
We’re happy to report that—strongly encouraged by our efforts, and those of other civic and community groups—local officials have begun to post significant amounts of data on government websites. New York City now posts its payroll online (though New York State has yet to follow suit). More and more newspapers are also periodically updating data for their coverage areas on their websites.
But SeeThroughNY remains, by far, the largest single government information depository of its kind in New York—bringing together, on one website, up-to-date searchable databases that give New Yorkers a better view of how their money is being spent, of how their localities stack up, and of where the state budget is headed.
In the past 12 months, SeeThrough averaged nearly 200,000 visitors and almost 600,000 page views a month—both of which are high numbers for good-government websites. At its busiest point of the day, SeeThroughNY averages 43 visits per minute.
This year’s new data releases have included:
- Three in Five New FDNY Pensions Hit Six-Figures (August)
- Big OT in Big Apple (August)
- Taxpayers On Hook For More Six-Figure Pensions (August)
- Another Big Albany Oink (June)
- Health + Hospitals Payroll Hits $2.9 Billion (June)
- Dig Into NY’s New Budget (June)
- More than 800 Double-Dipping From Public Pensions (May)
- Eight MTA Employees Top $200K—In Overtime (May)
- New York Set to Spend $5,169—Per Second (April)
- Port Authority Cops Load Up on OT (April)
- New Contracts Posted on SeeThroughNY (March)
- Pols Spent $7M on Postage Before Election (March)
- Career School Pensions Average Over $68,000, Higher in NYC (February)
- Budget App Breaks Down NYS Spending, Taxes (February)
- Local government 2016 payrolls
- Legislative Expenditures reports, detailing more than $100 million in costs
- Public authority 2016 payrolls