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City Clerk’s office fails to create lobbying transparency database required by 2013 law.

The database was a major part of lobbying reforms following two-year review by City lobbying commission.

Reinvent Albany, Citizens Union, and NYPIRG today released a letter to the City Clerk’s Office, calling on City Clerk Michael McSweeney to immediately establish a modern database revealing city lobbying activity as required by Local Law 29 of 2013 (PDF: Local Law 129).

The 2013 law required the City Clerk to make the database available to the public by December 17, 2015 – 1 year and 11 months ago. But the Clerk’s Office has not completed the database.

The database is required to be, “searchable by, at a minimum, lobbyist name, client name, person or agency before which lobbying activities took place, and the local law number with year, bill number, resolution number, rule number, or other information sufficient to identify the matter on which lobbying has occurred.”

“It is disappointing the City Clerk’s Office has failed to create this important database making lobbying activity more transparent. New York City has been a leader on Open Data and this is exactly the kind of information that should be in the Open Data portal so the public can see who is influencing government decisions,” said Alex Camarda, Senior Policy Advisor for Reinvent Albany.

“Citizens Union spent years engaged in reforming our lobbying laws with the City Lobbying Commission and the City Council,” said Alan Rothstein, Interim Executive Director.  “It diminishes the work of everyone involved in that process when an agency does not implement the law that was passed as part of the democratic process.”

“A modern, open system of lobbying regulation bolsters public support for this important program,” said Blair Horner, NYPIRG Executive Director.  “This program must follow the law’s requirements.”

The City currently collects a large amount of information on lobbying, including for each discreet lobbying activity: the lobbyist and client; the government entity and persons contacted at the entity; the specific subject; and the type of government determination such as a bill, executive order, rule or regulation. Yet the Clerk’s current database only reveals general information on the annual statement of registration rather than specific activities reported as frequently as bi-monthly.  Much of the information collected by the Clerk’s Office is not pro-actively disclosed to the public.  It does not make available downloadable, machine-readable lobbying activity data in the aggregate, thereby frustrating any analysis looking at activity across lobbyists and clients on particular subjects and government determinations.

Click to view the database as it presently stands.

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