Oregon Transparency Website: Through a Scanner Darkly

The 2009 Legislature said the absence of such a website was an emergency, and that, for the immediate preservation of Oregon’s public peace, health, and safety, the bill authorizing the website had to take effect the very day it was signed.
 
Its quiet decay into irrelevance since then is apparently not such a grave matter.

75th OREGON LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY–2009 Regular Session
Enrolled
House Bill 2500
Sponsored by Representatives ROBLAN, J SMITH, THATCHER, WHISNANT, Senator DEVLIN; Representatives BENTZ, BRUUN, CAMERON, CANNON, DEMBROW, C EDWARDS, D EDWARDS, ESQUIVEL, FREEMAN, GARRARD, GILLIAM, GILMAN, HANNA, HARKER, HUFFMAN, KAHL, KENNEMER, KOMP, KRIEGER, MATTHEWS, RICHARDSON, G SMITH, STIEGLER, THOMPSON, VANORMAN, WEIDNER, WINGARD, Senators BONAMICI, FERRIOLI, GEORGE, KRUSE, MONNES ANDERSON, MORRISETTE, MORSE, SCHRADER, STARR, WALKER, WHITSETT, WINTERS
 
AN ACT
Relating to public finance; appropriating money; and declaring an emergency.
 
Whereas the Seventy-fifth Legislative Assembly finds that taxpayers should be able to easily access the details on how the state is spending their tax dollars and what performance results are achieved for those expenditures; and
 
Whereas Oregon is currently facing a deep budget shortfall and is seeking efficiencies wherever possible; and
 
Whereas there currently is no single, easily accessible interactive website that allows taxpayers to track state revenues and expenditures; and
 
Whereas current technology affords the state an opportunity to provide citizens with a transparent look at the state’s finances; and
 
Whereas the Oregon Progress Board found in 2008 that only 12 percent of Oregonians could correctly identify both the income tax as Oregon’s largest source of state income and education as the largest General Fund expenditure; and
 
Whereas future investments in state government information technology should strive for integrated systems and data exchange designed to provide meaningful information to the public, policy makers and state agencies; and
 
Whereas the Seventy-fifth Legislative Assembly finds that the creation of an interactive website detailing the location, purpose and results of taxpayer investments in state government is beneficial to our state; now, therefore,
 
Be It Enacted by the People of the State of Oregon:
 
SECTION 1. As used in sections 1 to 4 of this 2009 Act, “state agency” means any officer, board, commission, department, division or institution of state government, as defined in ORS 174.111. “State agency” does not mean the State Treasurer.
 
SECTION 2. (1) The Oregon Department of Administrative Services shall develop and make available an Oregon transparency website. The website shall allow any person to view information that is a public record and not exempt from disclosure under ORS 192.410 to 192.505, including but not limited to information described in subsection (3) of this section.
 
(2) State agencies, to the extent practicable and subject to laws relating to confidentiality, when at no additional cost, using existing data and existing state agency resources and without reallocation of resources, shall:
 
(a) Furnish information to the Oregon transparency website by posting reports and providing links to existing information system applications in accordance with standards established by the Oregon Department of Administrative Services; and
 
(b) Provide the information in the format and manner required by the Oregon Department of Administrative Services.
 
(3) To the extent practicable and subject to laws relating to confidentiality, when at no additional cost, using existing data and existing state agency resources and without reallocation of resources, the Oregon transparency website shall contain information about each state agency, including but not limited to:
 
(a) Annual state agency revenues;
 
(b) Annual state agency expenditures;
 
(c) Annual state agency human resources expenses, including compensation;
 
(d) Annual state agency tax expenditures, including, where possible, the identity of the recipients of each tax expenditure;
 
(e) State agency contracting and subcontracting information, to the extent allowed by law;
 
(f) A prominently placed graphic representation of the primary funding categories and approximate number of individuals served by the state agency;
 
(g) A description of the mission, function and program categories of the state agency;
 
(h) Information about the state agency from the Oregon Progress Board; and
 
(i) A copy of any audit report issued by the Secretary of State for the state agency.
 
(4) In creating, operating, refining and recommending enhancements to the Oregon transparency website, the Oregon Department of Administrative Services and the Transparency Oregon Advisory Commission created in section 3 of this 2009 Act shall consider and, to the extent practicable, adhere to the following principles:
 
(a) The website must be accessible without cost and be easy to use;
 
(b) Information included on the Oregon transparency website must be presented using plain, easily understandable language; and
 
(c) The website should teach users about how state government works and provide users with the opportunity to learn something about how state government raises and spends revenue.
 
(5) If a state agency is not able to include information described in this section on the Oregon transparency website because of the lack of availability of information or cost in acquiring it, the Transparency Oregon Advisory Commission created in section 3 of this 2009 Act shall list the information that is not included for that state agency in the commission’s report to the Legislative Assembly required under section 3 of this 2009 Act.
 
SECTION 3. (1) There is created the Transparency Oregon Advisory Commission consisting of nine members appointed as follows:
 
(a) The President of the Senate shall appoint two members from among members of the Senate, one from the majority party and one from the minority party.
 
(b) The Speaker of the House of Representatives shall appoint two members from among members of the House of Representatives, one from the majority party and one from the minority party.
 
(c) The Governor shall appoint one member from an executive branch agency.
 
(d) The Director of the Oregon Department of Administrative Services shall appoint one member.
 
(e) The Legislative Fiscal Officer shall appoint one member.
 
(f) The President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall each appoint one member of the public with experience or interest in public finance, public relations, measurement of performance outcomes or technology.
 
(2) The commission shall advise and make recommendations to the Oregon Department of Administrative Services regarding the creation, contents and operation of, and enhancements to, the Oregon transparency website.
 
(3) A majority of the members of the commission constitutes a quorum for the transaction of business.
 
(4) Official action by the commission requires the approval of a majority of the members of the commission.
 
(5) The commission shall elect one of its members to serve as chairperson. The chairperson shall be selected not later than October 1 of each odd-numbered year.
 
(6) If there is a vacancy for any cause, the appointing authority shall make an appointment to become immediately effective.
 
(7) The commission shall meet at times and places specified by the call of the chairperson or of a majority of the members of the commission.
 
(8) The commission may adopt rules necessary for the operation of the commission.
 
(9) The commission shall use the services of permanent staff of the Legislative Fiscal Office to the greatest extent practicable to staff the commission. The Oregon Department of Administrative Services may provide additional assistance.
 
(10) Members of the commission who are not members of the Legislative Assembly are not entitled to compensation or reimbursement for expenses and serve as volunteers on the commission.
 
(11) All agencies of state government, as defined in ORS 174.111, are directed to assist the commission in the performance of its duties and, to the extent permitted by laws relating to confidentiality, to furnish such information and advice as the members of the commission consider necessary to perform their duties.
 
(12) The commission shall report to the Legislative Assembly not later than January 15 of each odd-numbered year. The report shall describe:
 
(a) Enhancements made to the Oregon transparency website during the previous two calendar years;
 
(b) Possible future enhancements to the website, including but not limited to the inclusion of information relating to:
 
(A) Performance outcomes that measure the success of state agency programs in achieving goals;
 
(B) State agency bond debt;
 
(C) State agency expenses for capital improvements;
 
(D) Numbers and descriptions of jobs created through state agency contracts and subcontracts;
 
(E) Lists of businesses and individuals receiving tax credits, deductions, refunds, rebates and other subsidies from a state agency;
 
(F) Lists of the names of contractors who received a contract from a state agency, including the number of contracts and compensation received; and
 
(G) Lists by contracting state agency of the number of contracts entered into during a biennium and the amount of moneys spent on the contracts; and
 
(c) The feasibility of including an interactive application where citizens can simulate balancing a biennial budget for the state.
 
(13) The term of office of each member is four years, but a member serves at the pleasure of the appointing authority. Before the expiration of the term of a member, the appointing authority shall appoint a successor whose term begins on January 1 next following. A member is eligible for reappointment. If there is a vacancy for any cause, the appointing authority shall make an appointment to become immediately effective for the unexpired term.
 
SECTION 4. (1) The Transparency Oregon Advisory Commission may accept contributions of moneys and assistance from the United States Government or its agencies or from any other source, public or private, and agree to conditions placed on the moneys not inconsistent with the duties of the commission.
 
(2) There is established in the State Treasury, separate and distinct from the General Fund, the Transparency Oregon Advisory Commission Fund. The fund consists of moneys received by the commission under this section and such other moneys as may otherwise be made available by law. Interest earned on the fund shall be credited to the fund. Moneys in the fund are continuously appropriated to the commission and may be used only for the performance of the functions of the commission.
 
SECTION 5. (1) Section 2 of this 2009 Act becomes operative on January 1, 2010.
 
(2) The Oregon Department of Administrative Services may take any action before the operative date specified in subsection (1) of this section that is necessary to enable the department to exercise, on and after the operative date specified in subsection (1) of this section, all the duties, functions and powers conferred on the department by this 2009 Act.
 
SECTION 6. Notwithstanding the term of office specified by section 3 of this 2009 Act, of the members first appointed to the Transparency Oregon Advisory Commission:
 
(1) Three shall serve for terms ending January 1, 2011.
(2) Three shall serve for terms ending January 1, 2012.
(3) Three shall serve for terms ending January 1, 2013.
 
SECTION 7. This 2009 Act being necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health and safety, an emergency is declared to exist, and this 2009 Act takes effect on its passage.