FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 8, 2005
MAYOR MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG AND DOITT COMMISSIONER GINO MENCHINI ANNOUNCE NEW WEB SITE WITH SEARCHABLE DATA ON CITY CONTRACTORS
NYC Vendor Search an Effort to Assist the Campaign Finance Board in Implementing 1998 Charter Amendment Concerning Campaign Contributors who "Do Business" with the City
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) Commissioner Gino Menchini today announced the creation of an online database of contractors that do business with the City of New York. The new Web site, called NYC Vendor Search, is available through www.nyc.gov/vendorsearch and through www.nyccfb.info, the home page of the City's Campaign Finance Board (CFB). The new database puts New York City in the nation's forefront of providing publicly accessible data on government contracts. The initiative was undertaken to assist the CFB in complying with a law requiring political candidates in the City's matching funds program to disclose which of their contributors "do business" with the City. The law, passed by referendum in 1998, also authorizes the CFB to restrict or prohibit such contributions.
"Improving the transparency and integrity of government is a vitally important mission," said Mayor Bloomberg. "This new online database of City contractors will provide members of the public, journalists, political candidates, and the Campaign Finance Board (CFB) with useful information about the City's contractors, and it will help them to determine whether contractors are also making campaign contributions for the purpose of receiving special treatment - a pernicious practice called 'pay-to-play.' In other states, pay-to-play scandals are making headlines and costing taxpayers millions of dollars. Our Administration urges the CFB to take immediate steps to promulgate rules, in accordance with the mandate passed by voters in 1998, that require candidates to disclose which of their contributors do business with the City."
Despite passage of the Charter Amendment in 1998, the CFB has not adopted any rules or restrictions governing "doing business" contributions, citing the lack of electronic data on those who "do business" with the City. To remedy this situation, the Bloomberg Administration committed to creating an online database of contracts. The information for the new database is derived directly from the City's Vendor Information Exchange System, (VENDEX), which stores information for many of New York City's franchises, concessions, contracts, and subcontracts. The new database includes basic information about who holds or held City contracts and the worth of those contracts, and it contains an easy-to-use search function that allows users to search by entering a company name or the name of a company principal. After identifying and selecting an entity, the user can view general information about its contracts, including the financial value of each.
"Under Mayor Bloomberg's leadership, every City agency is finding new ways to use technology to provide New Yorkers with better government service," said Commissioner Menchini. "By creating an online version of City contractors, we have built a useful tool for the Campaign Finance Board and members of the public to obtain information that will now be available online. In addition, we will soon be adding to this system data on registered lobbyists and their clients, which is currently available only in paper format from the Office of the City Clerk."
With the launch of this new database of City contractors, soon to be expanded to include lobbyists and their clients, the Administration has urged the CFB to promulgate draft rules at its upcoming meeting that would define "doing business" contributions and require candidates to disclose them. While not requesting that the CFB restrict or prohibit "doing business" contributions for the 2005 elections, the Bloomberg Administration strongly believes that the disclosure requirement contained in the 1998 Charter Amendment should be implemented immediately.
Edward Skyler / Jonathan Werbell (212) 788-2958