New York City, Pennsylvania to update transparency websites

New York City and Pennsylvania are working to increase transparency by providing citizens with more information and new government websites. Over the weekend, New York City held a hackathon focused on reinventing city government. Pennsylvania also launched a new website, PennWATCH, which will provide citizens with a searchable database of government spending.

New York City’s hackathon included developers from across the united states hand picked by New York City Chief Digital Officer Rachel Sterne. The goal of the event was to re-imagine and find new ways to provide a better experience for New York City residents. Developers provided city officials with designs, ideas and dialogue about the next phase of the website and how to create a better user experience.

The city also introduced two new APIs which work with the 311 service and the open data sets that run many popular municipal apps.

PennWATCH, will be online for Pennsylvania residents in 2013 and will allow them to search a single online database for a variety of financial data including salaries, project cost, and what agencies spend with vendors. The website is part of the state’s work to increase its transparency after receiving years of poor marks from transparency watchdog groups. By 2015, the state will also include information about the performance of government programs.

The state expects that the website will cost about $2.25 million to build out – money that was included in this year’s budget measure.