News From Kevin Lembo

COMPTROLLER LEMBO ANNOUNCES OVERWHELMING RESPONSE BY QUASI-PUBLIC AGENCIES TO PROVIDE CHECKBOOK-LEVEL FINANCIAL DATA FOR STATE'S ONLINE TRANPARENCY PORTAL

Monday, March 7, 2016 | Contact: Tara Downes (860.702.3308 | Tara.Downes@ct.gov)  

Comptroller Kevin Lembo announced today that 10 out of 12 Connecticut quasi-public agencies have officially confirmed that they will voluntarily provide his office with checkbook-level financial data annually to incorporate in OpenConnecticut, the state's comprehensive financial transparency website.
The two additional quasi-public agencies have also expressed a willingness to participate, but are still reviewing the details and preparing an official response to Lembo.

"This overwhelming response by the quasi-public agencies reinforces that Connecticut is on its way to becoming the most transparent and open government in the country," Lembo said. "It is now considered best practice to provide checkbook-level transparency data for quasi-public institutions on state transparency websites - and doing so will allow Connecticut to retain its position as a leader in government transparency efforts and will help to maintain the public's confidence in government operations."

In a letter to the heads of all quasi-public agencies last month, Lembo said this step is necessary for Connecticut to maintain its leadership -- or even keep up with neighboring states - on open government, transparency and accountability.

"Quasi-public agencies are set apart from other state government agencies by design, relieving them of some - though not all - requirements that apply to other agencies in order to allow them to respond to challenges and opportunities more expediently and efficiently than traditional government entities," Lembo said. "All quasi-public agencies were formed to meet a public purpose with significant ramifications on the general public, and many rely in some way
on state funds or resources to accomplish their stated purpose. The operations of quasi-public institutions should therefore be as transparent as possible."
Lembo launched OpenConnecticut three years ago as a central hub for all of the state's financial data and reports that had historically been scattered across agencies and websites. Since launching the site, Connecticut has improved its grade in financial transparency from a B- to an A in U.S. PIRG's annual "Follow the Money" financial transparency survey.

Connecticut was one of only eight states last year to receive an A grade from U.S. PIRG. Since then, however, several states - including neighboring Massachusetts - have moved to incorporate data from all government entities, including quasi-publics, into their transparency websites.
Quasi-public agencies are independent government corporations created through legislation to perform particular public functions.
"The services that quasi-public agencies provide are essential public services that directly impact the lives of residents and businesses in the state," Lembo said. "Quasi-public agencies are responsible for running the state's health care exchange, operating our state-owned airports, incentivizing clean energy solutions, promoting economic development, maintaining waste disposal, providing financing for low-income housing and health and education institutions and distributing loans.

"Delivering this data to the public through our easily accessible online portal will improve public confidence in the operations of quasi-public institutions and help to move Connecticut forward as one of the most transparent state governments in the country," Lembo said.
Lembo said that he hopes to incorporate the quasi-public agency data on the OpenConnecticut by the end of the fiscal year, or as soon as possible. OpenConnecticut can be accessed at http://www.osc.ct.gov/openCT.html

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