The City of Philadelphia, through a joint effort among the Finance Department, Chief Integrity Officer and the Office of Innovation and Technology (OIT), has launched a new open data website for City contracts. The site provides data on the City’s professional services contracts in a searchable format and includes a breakdown of contract dollars by vendor, department and service type. The website is the latest addition to a growing open data and open government effort led by city officials.
Contracts data will be available for download in CSV format; an educational FAQ section will also help users understand common contracting terminology. The website will be updated quarterly to reflect changes made during mandatory quarterly filing periods that are already a part of the state’s procurement rules.
Undergraduate and graduate students participating in the Mayor’s Internship Program for summer 2013 compiled research on best practices for opening up contract data and made recommendations on how to make contract data more accessible to the public.
Pennsylvania government in general is getting more and more open at least at the municipal level, if not at the state level.
Pittsburgh also has a newly minted open government coordinator that is working to build an open data and government transparency culture in that city. The Philly metro area is also working to foster a local technology and development economy and increase transparency. The shift is notable given the size of a state like Pennsylvania, and its unique position in the middle of the go-go east coast urban states and the heartland. Watch this space.