The New York City Council’s pork-barrel member-item spending for fiscal 2011 has been posted on SeeThroughNY.net, the transparency website sponsored by the Empire Center for Public Policy. The $54.4 million in discretionary member items represent projects City Council members sponsored for the 2010-11 fiscal year.
The online database, which also includes nearly $300 million in member-item spending by the state Legislature for fiscal years 2008-09 and 2009-10, is searchable and sortable by member name, location and recipient name. No member items were awarded on the state level in the 2010-11 fiscal year.
“This is the first time we have posted the city’s list for taxpayers, but it may also be the last time we need to,” said Tim Hoefer, director of the Empire Center. “Council Speaker Christine Quinn has committed to providing a more open database next year. We hope she carries through on that pledge in a way that is useful and accessible to taxpayers.”
Under the “Expenditure” tab of the SeeThroughNY website, users can search all available information for 4,264 member items approved by the City Council this fiscal year. Users can search the member item database in a variety of ways, by the name of council sponsors or co-sponsors; the name of the recipient organization; and the city or town in which the recipient is located. Search results can be downloaded as a spreadsheet or comma-delimited text file for further analysis.
The SeeThroughNY database of City Council items can be downloaded as a spreadsheet on a user’s own computer, and includes supporting information missing from the City Council’s own online database of discretionary grants. The Council has promised to make more information available online in a “fully searchable” format before adopting the city budget for fiscal 2012, which begins July 1.
SeeThroughNY also includes searchable databases of payrolls for New York State and New York City government, counties, municipalities and school districts throughout the state, and dozens of public authorities. Also posted are pension data for former state and local governments and school district employees; state legislator office expenditures, and a benchmarking feature for comparing local government and school district spending. The site was launched July 31, 2008.
The Albany-based Empire Center is a non-partisan, independent think tank.