Government & Politics
4:36 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

New Website Takes Guesswork Out of State Finances, Employees

Ever wonder where your tax dollars go, or how much money the state is making?  That's one reason why the commonwealth is putting more government information online. 

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett announced the launch of a new website that will disclose an abundance of government information that under previous law was inaccessible unless a right-to-know request was filed.

The Pennsylvania Web Accountability and Transparency Contract Hub, or PennWATCH, is an online effort to have a more open state government.  The online pages will have information from how tax money is spent to whom the state employs.  Tom Corbett says transparency is important because it creates trust between citizens and the government.

“It allows people to understand, hopefully, policy so that they can make informed decisions about how to be useful citizens in a democracy,” Corbett said.

The website is designed to have a format including four sections: budget, spending, revenue, and employees.  It’s the first time most of the information will be made available online.  Corbett said PennWATCH also has external links to other state  websites, like the Department of Public Welfare.  Corbett added PennWATCH also aims to prevent scandal.

“In a truly open society people generally won’t do something they don’t want to read on the front page of the papers the next day.”

Corbett said most other states have an online forum where citizens can access similar information, but said none are as easy to navigate as Pennsylvania’s.

“Our goal with PennWATCH was to make it as easy for you to use as possible,” Corbett said.  “It’s not enough to put the information somewhere on a computer, we need to put it in a place where people can find it, we need to put it in a way that people can drill down and understand the information that they do find.”