Proactive disclosure

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Affirmative disclosure, also known as proactive disclosure, is the revelation of information that may be damaging to the one revealing it.[1] When used in the terms of open government, it is the practice of the government publishing government data, rather than for an individual's public records request. This data could be published online in a number of forms like RSS, API, upload, download, IG review, or FTP.[2]

History of the term

Affirmative disclosure was originally required by the Federal Trade Commission, when they required companies to inform potential customers about ingredients used in products, warnings or advertising corrections.[3]

Affirmative disclosure as an evolved FOIA

Michael Hertz, Professor of Law and Director at the Floersheimer Center for Constitutional Democracy, recently published a paper describing the failures of the Freedom of Information Act and how affirmative disclosure could be a solution to the dissemination of information in the modern age.[4]

[FOIA's] in particular, (a) it does not require agencies to generate information, and (b) it imposes only minimal (and frequently disregarded) obligations to disseminate information without being asked. In the Information Age, these restrictions are more problematic than ever. A reinvented FOIA might involve agencies that generate, interpret, and disseminate information for the public benefit; the government would be a sort of non-profit publishing house. We are far from such a world, and it would not be an unmitigated blessing. But we should be moving more in that direction.[4]

States proactive disclosure legislation

Below is a chart of legislation passed by states requiring financial databases be disclosed online.[5]

State Transparency Site Enacted Statewide Transparency Legislation Data Disclosed Estimated cost-to-date Estimated Annual Cost
Arkansas Office of State Procurement 2011 S.B. 221 State expenditures, including information about the purpose of the spending, amount, payor, and vendor information.
Alabama Open Alabama 2011 S.B. 221 State expenditures, including information about University and Community college spending, Governor's Office Spending, contracts, and leases. Also includes lobbyist records, meetings and campaign finance, performance measurements.
2009 S.B. 204
Alaska Alaska Checkbook Online Vendors and grantees who received payment of more than $1,000. Payments below $1,000 are not included. $5,000 of staff time, $15,000-$25,000 from existing budget[6]
Arizona Arizona Openbooks 2011 H.B. 2572 Financial information for Universities including tuition and fees. State revenue and expenditures. Reports on the Arizona Power Authority and police and firefighter state pension plan (PSPRS).
2010 H.B. 2282
2008 S.B. 1235
California Reporting Transparency in Government Website 2009 A.B. 400 External and internal audits of state departments. Statement of Economic Interests, Form 700 and Travel Expense Claim Forms, and contract information $21,000[7]
Colorado Transparency Online Project 2009 H.B. 1288 Expenditures categorized by who spent the money, types of goods and services, and goods and services provider. Revenue information by who receives the money and type of revenue. $75,000 start-up costs + minimal costs[8] $25,000 "ongoing" cost[8]
Connecticut Transparency CT 2010 Public Act No. 10-155 State expenditures, compensation, contracts, grants, payments, and pensions.
Delaware Delaware Online Checkbook State purchasing and reimbursements for Executive Branch agencies, Other Elected Official agencies, Higher Education, and School Districts. Existing resources[9]
Florida Transparency Florida 2009 S.B. 1796 State budget information along with daily operating expenses such as purchasing for state agencies. Existing resources[10]
Georgia Open Georgia 2008 S.B. 300 Salaries and travel reimbursements, purchasing, Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR), performance reviews, Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) reports, and Stimulus reports. Existing resources
Hawaii State Procurement Office Contracts 2009 S.B. 659 Contracts for Health and Human Services and Goods, Services, and Construction.
2007 H.B. 122
Idaho Statewide Contracts Statewide contracts and rules, policies, and statutes regarding purchasing and contracts.
Illinois Illinois Transparency & Accountability Portal 2009 H.B. 35 State employee pay, state agency expenditures, state agency contracts, corporate accountability and professional licenses. Existing resources
Indiana Active Contracts and Quantity Purchase Agreements 2011 HEA 1004 Active Contracts and Quantity Purchase Agreements (QPAs).
Iowa Procurement Services 2011 H.F. 45 Procurement services by State Agency and Vendor.
Kansas KanView 2008 S.B. 316 State revenues and expenditures and Bond Indebtedness. roughly $100,000 start-up costs + existing resources[11] existing resources[11]
2007 H.B. 2457
Kentucky Open Door Kentucky 2011 S.B. 7 Audits, state investments, tax incentives, election finance, Kentucky At Work, revenue, and expenditures. Existing resources ($150,000 to be requested for hardware and maintenance)
Louisiana LaTrac 2008 S.B. 37 Statewide expenditures, University expenditures, and Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) expenditures. Existing resources ($1 million appropriated for expansion)[6]
(1st ex. sess.)
Maine DataShare Raw data (CSV (comma-separated) and/or KML formats) including state expenses, agency data, and geographic data.
Maryland Maryland Funding Accountability & Transparency 2008 H.B. 358 Payments to vendors who received more than $25,000 in a fiscal year. Grants and loans of $50,000 or more in a fiscal year. Existing resources (less than $100,000)[6]
Massachusetts Massachusetts Transparency 2010 H.B. 4800 State budget, revenue sources, procurement, and state and local government information.
Michigan State Spending and Accountability Information (dead link) State expenditures, executive budget, annual workforce reports, civil service job specifications and wage rates, and contract listing.
Minnesota Transparency and Accountability Project (TAP Minnesota) 2009 S.F. 2082 Payments to vendors and professional and technical payments.
2007 H.F. 548
Mississippi Transparency Mississippi 2011 S.B. 2554 Budget, expenditures, revenue, travel expenses, contracts, leases, grants, and workforce.
2008 H.B. 101
Missouri MAP--Missouri Accountability Portal 2010 S.B. 757 Employees, expenditures, stimulus, tax credits, and list of those not paying sales taxes. Existing resources (less than $100,000)[6]
Montana State Procurement Bureau--Term Contracts All term contracts.
Nebraska 2009 L.B. 16 Current and past budgets, property tax and state aid, state contracts, county budgets, school system/other budgets, University system spending, and operating investment pool. $38,000[6]
Nevada Nevada Open Government Initiative 2011 A.B. 276 Legislatively approved budget, Governor's recommended budget, revenue and spending, and ARRA spending. $169,000[12]
New Hampshire TransparentNH 2011 H.B. 331 Revenue sources and expenditures.
2010 H.B. 1651
New Jersey YourMoney.NJ.Gov Revenue, expenditures, purchasing, public payroll, pension, Government Performance Center, property tax, debt, annual/other reports, executive orders, and a citizen's guide to the budget.
New Mexico New Mexico Contracts Database Website 2011 S.B. 327 A database of contracts in excess of $20,000.
2010 S.B. 195
2009 H.B. 546
New York Open Book New York State agency spending, state contracts, local government spending, and stimulus spending.
North Carolina NC OpenBook (dead link) 2010 H.B. 961 Budget 101, tax expenditures, grants, contract, DOT contracts, county and municipal fiscal analysis, campaign finance reports, lobbyist directory, and current legislation.
North Dakota State Procurement Online 2009 S.B. 2018 Bids, solicitations, and state contracts.
Ohio Ohio Government Accountability and Transparency 2008 H.B. 420 Grants, state procurement, state properties, Think Ohio First, state employees, state budget, regulatory reform, and tax incentives.
Oklahoma OpenBooks 2007 S.B. 1 (dead link) State expenditures, spending restrictions, rainy day fund, education lottery, revenue sources, state investment earning and amount received from Gaming Compact. Initial cost $40,000, future expenses $245-$260,000[13]
Oregon Oregon Transparency 2011 H.B. 2825 State budget, agencies, performance, revenue sources, expenditures, contracts, procurement, and state workforce. Existing resources[14]
2009 H.B. 2500
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Contracts e-Library Searchable database of state contracts $456,850[15]
Rhode Island Open Government Transparency Expenditures by vendor and open government financial records for state agencies. Used existing monies.[16]
South Carolina Spending Transparency, Budget and Control Board Transparency Hub Annual summary spending, monthly detailed spending, spending by vendor, agency budgets, unclaimed property, local government finance reports, state contracts, projects under review, procurement card usage, state salaries above $50,000, and number of employees. $25,000 - $50,000 from existing resources[6]
South Dakota OpenSD State financial information, including contracts, stimulus, revenue forecasts, quick takes, payroll information, vendor payment information, revenues, and expenditures. City, county, and school information including audits. Existing resources
Tennessee Open Government Vendors by quarterly information or by agency, state salaries, audits, fraud waste and abuse, public meetings, and open records.
Texas Texas Transparency 2007 H.B. 3430 Revenue sources, expenditures, contracts, databases, stimulus reporting, budgets, and investments. $310,000 + minimal expenditures[17] minimal expenditure[17]
Utah Transparent Utah.Gov 2008 S.B. 38 Expenses, revenues, employee compensation, stimulus expense and stimulus revenue for state and local municipalities down to the school district level. Initial estimate was $480,000, actual cost was $283,250.67[18][19]
Vermont Dept. of Finance & Mgmt. Reports and Publications Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR), executive budget recommendations, state budget acts, town payment reports, monthly revenue reports, revenue forecast, payment reports, tax expenditures, contracts for services, and more.
Virginia Commonwealth Data Point 2009 S.B. 936 State spending, revenue, budget, purchase charge cards, debt, demographics, and local government reports.
2005 S.B. 934
Washington Washington State Fiscal Information 2008 S.B. 6818 Budgets, spending, revenue, project mapping, vendor checkbook, staff, state employee salaries, and performance. roughly $400,000[20] roughly $100,000[20]
West Virginia State Agency Grant Awards State agency grant awards by agency and awardee. Existing resources
Wisconsin Contract Sunshine State contracts, purchasing, and bids worth a biennial expenditure of $10,000 or more.
Wyoming Transparency in Wyoming Government 2009 H.B. 144 Payment distributions and use, annual and fiscal reports, budgets, and documents and publications.

See also

External links


  1. Business Dictionary
  2. Sunlight Foundation, Obama and Disclosure, December 8, 2008
  3. Affirmative Disclosure at the FTC: Theoretical Framework and Typology of Case Selection, by William L. Wilkie © 1983 American Marketing Association
  4. 4.0 4.1 Herz, Michael Eric, Law Lags Behind: FOIA and Affirmative Disclosure of Information (July 2009). Cardozo Public Law, Policy and Ethics Journal, Vol. 7, No. 3, 2009. Available at SSRN
  5. National Conference of State Legislatures, Statewide Transparency/Spending Web Sites and Legislation, June 27, 2011
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Mercatus Center, The Cost of State Online Spending Transparency Initiatives, April 2009
  7. MASSPIRG "Following the Money"
  8. 8.0 8.1 Colorado's Governor Website, Press Release - Colorado Transparency Online Project
  9. WBOC "Delaware to Post State's Checkbook Online"
  10. MASSPIRG "Following the Money"
  11. 11.0 11.1 e-mail exchange, cost of KanView
  12. e-mail exchange, cost of open Nevada
  13. National Taxpayers Union, Testimony of Kristina Rasmussen, NTU Government Affairs Director, Submitted to the Health and Government Operations Committee, Maryland House of Delegates, Regarding HB 358, the Maryland Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, Feb. 6, 2008
  14. MASSPIRG "Following the Money"
  15. Estimate based upon information from the Pennsylvania Contract e-Library; specifically, two contracts the state had with Koryak Consulting
  16. Rhode Island Treasurer, How much did this project cost?
  17. 17.0 17.1 Open Records, Section C}
  18. Center for Fiscal Accountability, Another Proof That Spending Transparency is Usually Less Costly Than Anticipated, May 29, 2009
  19. Sutherland Institue, FOIA request, Jan. 29, 2009
  20. 20.0 20.1 e-mail exchange, cost of