SENATE, No. 3355

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

221st LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED JUNE 3, 2024

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  JOHN J. BURZICHELLI

District 3 (Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     “Transparency in Government Act”; provides for establishment of State public finance website.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act providing for the establishment of a State public finance website and designated as the Transparency in Government Act, supplementing chapter 18A of Title 52 of the Revised Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    This act shall be known and may be cited as the “Transparency in Government Act.”

 

     2.    As used in this act:

     "Chief Technology Officer" means the person appointed by and serving at the pleasure of the Governor who is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Office of Information Technology.       “Public Finance Transparency Committee” means the committee established pursuant to section 4 of P.L.    , c.   (C.   ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

     “Searchable website” means an Internet website that allows the general public to search and aggregate data and information identified in section 3 of this act.  The term shall include requirements that the website offer the general public the ability to search and display data, and ascertain the total amounts of: (1) revenues and expenditures of funds established within the State treasury; (2) compensation paid to public employees of State agencies; and (3) bond debt as specified in this act, in an aggregate or summary form in a manner determined by the State Treasurer, in consultation with the Chief Technology Officer and the Public Finance Transparency Committee.

     “State agency” or “agency” means any of the principal departments in the Executive Branch of State Government, and any division, board, bureau, office, commission, or other instrumentality within or created by such principal department; the Legislature of the State and any office, board, bureau, or commission within or created by the Legislative Branch of State Government; the Judiciary of the State and any office, board, bureau, or commission within or created by the Judicial Branch of State Government; and any independent State authority, commission, instrumentality, or agency.

 

     3.    a.  The State Treasurer, in consultation with the Chief Technology Officer, shall design, develop, and maintain a single, searchable Internet website that is accessible to the general public without charge and that includes data and information on:

     (1)   annual State agency expenditures, as determined by the State Treasurer and as available within the central accounting system and State payroll system, which shall include but not be limited to:

     (a)   disbursements by a State agency from funds established within the State treasury;

     (b)   bond debt services including, but not limited to, amounts of bond debt or interest paid and sources of funds for bond issues;

     (c)   salaries and wages including, but not limited to, compensation paid to employees of State agencies;

     (d)   contractual service purchases including, but not limited to, amounts paid to vendors;

     (e)   commodity purchases including, but not limited to, amounts paid to vendors;

     (f)   capital outlay and improvements including, but not limited to, amounts paid to vendors;

     (g)   aid to local units of government including, but not limited to, amounts paid to individual units of local government for aid programs; and

     (h)   additional forms of assistance and benefits deemed relevant by the State Treasurer.

     (2)   annual State revenues, as determined by the State Treasurer and as available within the central accounting system, which shall include but not be limited to:

     (a)   receipts and deposits by any State agency into funds established within the State treasury;

     (b)   taxes including, but not limited to, compulsory contributions imposed by the State for the purpose of financing services;

     (c)   agency earnings including, but not limited to, amounts collected by each agency for merchandise sold, services performed, licenses, and permits issued, or regulation;

     (d)   revenue for the use of money and property including, but not limited to, amounts received for compensation for the use of State-owned money and property;

     (e)   gifts, donations, and federal grants including, but not limited to, amounts received from public and private entities to aid in support of a specific function or other governmental activity;

     (f)   other revenue including, but not limited to, receipts not classified elsewhere; and

     (g)   non-revenue receipts including, but not limited to, all receipts that do not constitute revenue.

     (3)   annual State bonded indebtedness, as determined by the State Treasurer and as available within the central accounting system, which shall include but not be limited to:

     (a)   amount of the total original obligation stated in terms of principal and interest;

     (b)   term of the obligation;

     (c)   source of funding for repayment of the obligation;

     (d)   amounts of principal and interest previously paid to reduce the obligation;

     (e)   remaining balance of the obligation;

     (f)   data and information related to refinancing of the obligation; and

     (g)   cited statutory or constitutional authority to issue such bonds.

     (4)   any other data or information specified by the State Treasurer after consulting with and seeking the advice of the Chief Technology Officer and the Public Finance Transparency Committee.

     b.    (1)  The public finance website shall include all data and information enumerated in subsection a. of this section for fiscal year 2000 and each fiscal year thereafter.  Such data and information posted on the website may be periodically updated, but shall not be subject to removal.

     (2)   All data and information that is available in the central accounting and State payroll systems shall be made available on the public finance website as soon as practicable, but not later than 45 days after the last day of the preceding fiscal year.

     (3)   The State Treasurer shall develop policies and procedures, in accordance with the provisions of the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), to make data and information available from any other source.

     (4)   Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, the State Treasurer shall not be required to provide data and information on the public finance website that is not available in the central accounting system and the State payroll system at the time of the website’s initial implementation.

     (5)   All State agencies are directed to cooperate with the State Treasurer, the Chief Technology Officer, and the Public Finance Transparency Committee in compiling the data and information necessary to comply with the provisions of this act.

     (6)   Nothing in this act shall require the disclosure of information deemed private, personal, or confidential by State or federal law.

 

     4.    a.  There is established in the Department of the Treasury the Public Finance Transparency Committee to advise, consult, and coordinate with the State Treasurer and the Chief Technology Officer regarding the scope, content, and format of the public finance website developed to comply with the provisions of section 3 of this act.

     b.    The committee shall be comprised of 13 members, including:

     (1)   the State Treasurer or the Treasurer’s designee;

     (2)   the Chief Technology Officer or the Officer’s designee;

     (3)   the Director of the Division of Budget and Accounting in the Department of the Treasury or the Director’s designee;

     (4)   two members who are commissioners, directors, or officers of a State agency, who shall be appointed by the Governor;

     (5)   four members of the general public, two who shall be appointed by the Governor, one who shall be appointed by the President of the Senate, and one who shall be appointed by the Speaker of the General Assembly; and

     (6)   four members of the Legislature, one who shall be appointed by the President of the Senate, one who shall be appointed by the Minority Leader of the Senate, one who shall be appointed by the Speaker of the General Assembly, and one who shall be appointed by the Minority Leader of the General Assembly.

     c.     The committee shall organize as soon as practicable, but no later than the 30th day after the appointment of a majority of its members.  The State Treasurer or the Treasurer’s designee shall serve as the chairperson of the committee, but the committee shall select a vice-chairperson from among its members and appoint a secretary who need not be a member of the committee.

     d.    Vacancies in the membership of the committee shall be filled in the same manner provided for the original appointments.  Eight members of the committee shall constitute a quorum and the affirmative vote of eight members shall be necessary for any action taken by the committee.  Any vacancy in membership shall not prohibit the quorum of the committee from exercising its respective rights and its duties.

     e.     The committee may meet at the call of the chair and hold hearings at the times and in the places it deems necessary and appropriate to fulfill its charge.  The committee shall be entitled to call to its assistance, and avail itself of the services of, the employees of any State, county, or municipal department, board, bureau, commission, or agency as it may require and as may be available for its purposes.

     f.     The public members of the committee shall serve without compensation, but may be reimbursed for traveling and other miscellaneous expenses necessary to perform their duties, within the funds made available to the committee for its purposes.

     g.    It shall be the duty of the committee to:

     (1)   serve in an advisory capacity to the State Treasurer, who shall from time to time consult with and seek the advice of the committee on matters related to the development and expansion of the public finance website as well as opportunities to make the website more accessible to the general public;

     (2)   advise the State Treasurer and the Chief Technology Officer, after implementation of the initial website, on incorporating additional data and information described by this act from any other source of data or information available to the State Treasurer or Chief Technology Officer, including information submitted by a State agency pursuant to paragraph (5) of subsection b. of section 3 of this act;

     (3)   seek the advice of and receive feedback from the general public, professional associations, State agencies, academic groups and institutions, and individuals with knowledge of and interest in areas of public information access, gateway services, add-on services, and electronic information for the general improvement of the public finance website; and

     (4)   issue an annual report to the Governor and, pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1991, c.164 (C.52:14-19.1), to the Legislature regarding the progress in developing and implementing the public finance website; public input and feedback concerning the utility of the website and recommendations for its improvement; and proposed enhancements to the website in terms of content, format, policies, and procedures, reports, and other matters as deemed appropriate by the State Treasurer and the Chief Technology Officer.

 

     5.    This act shall take effect immediately, except that the website accessibility requirement of section 3 shall not apply until the first business day of the seventh month beginning after the date of enactment.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

      This bill, the “Transparency in Government Act,” establishes a State public finance website to provide State residents with a convenient, user-friendly source of information to track State revenues and expenditures and to gauge the State’s overall level of bonded indebtedness. 

      Under the bill, the State Treasurer, in consultation with the Chief Technology Officer of the Office of Information Technology, is required to design, develop, and maintain a single, searchable website that is accessible to the general public without charge, and that includes information on:

      -- annual State expenditures;

      -- annual State revenues;

      -- annual State bonded indebtedness, and

      -- any other data and information specified by the State Treasurer after consulting with and seeking the advice of the Chief Technology Officer and the Public Finance Transparency Committee established by the bill. 

      The bill provides that the website must include data and information concerning State expenditures, revenues, and bonded indebtedness for fiscal year 2000 and each year thereafter.  The bill permits data and information posted on the website to be periodically updated, but prohibits the removal of data and information posted to the site. 

      The bill requires data and information available in the central accounting and State payroll systems to be made available on the website as soon as practicable, but not later than 45 days after the last day of the preceding fiscal year.  The bill stipulates that it does not require the disclosure of information deemed, private, personal, or confidential by State or federal law. 

      The bill establishes the Public Finance Transparency Committee within the Department of the Treasury.  The bill provides for the committee to be comprised of 13 members, including: (1) the State Treasurer, (1) the Chief Technology Officer, (1) the Director of the Division of Budget and Accounting, (2) two members who are commissioners, directors, or officers of a State agency, (4) four members of the general public, and (4) four members of the Legislature. 

      The bill directs the committee to:

      -- serve in an advisory capacity to the State Treasurer on matters related to the development and expansion of the website and opportunities to make the website more accessible to the public;

      -- advise the State Treasurer and Chief Technology Officer on the incorporation of additional data and information into the website, after the site is implemented;

      -- seek the advice and receive feedback from the public, professional associations, State agencies, academic groups and institutions, and other individuals with knowledge of and interest in areas of public information access, gateways services, add-on services, and electronic information for the general improvement of the website; and

      -- issue an annual report to the Governor and the Legislature regarding the website.

     The bill takes effect immediately upon enactment, but provides for section 3 of the bill (concerning the design and development of the website) to not apply until the first business day of the seventh month beginning after the date of enactment.