FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 21, 2005
MAYOR BLOOMBERG ANNOUNCES NEW WEBSITE THAT DISCLOSES THE ACTIVITIES OF REGISTERED CITY LOBBYISTS
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) Commissioner Gino Menchini today announced the creation of an online database of registered City lobbyists and their clients. The new database, called NYC Lobbyist Search, is available through www.nyc.gov/bizsearch, which also includes the recently launched NYC Vendor Search, a database of City contractors. In addition, the Office of the City Clerk (www.nycmarriagebureau.com) and Campaign Finance Board (www.nyccfb.info) will include links on their websites to the new database. The new online database vastly improves public accessibility to the information that registered lobbyists are required by law to disclose. Previously, such information was available only on paper filings stored with the City Clerk's office and made public in an annual report. The new lobbying database includes information about lobbyists and their clients, such as the financial value of their contracts, as well as information not available in the annual report, including "additional lobbyists" who are not the principals of their organizations and information on the "target" of each lobbyist's efforts. A simple search function allows users to search by entering either a lobbyist's or client's name.
"This is a big victory for open government," said Mayor Bloomberg. "The lobbying industry has nearly tripled in the last five years, but access to its public records has been severely limited. Working with City Clerk Victor Robles, we have created a user-friendly database that will put information about the activities of lobbyists, previously available only in paper form, at the fingertips of anyone with access to the Internet. In contrast to the City Clerk's annual report, the new site will contain additional information and it will be updated quarterly, rather than annually. This is a major step forward in our work to make government more transparent - and to provide the Campaign Finance Board with a powerful tool to implement the law passed by voters in 1998. NYC Lobbyist Search, together with NYC Vendor Search, launched in April, provides the public and the CFB with a valuable resource."
The creation of NYC Lobbyist Search was undertaken to assist the Campaign Finance Board (CFB) in complying with a law requiring candidates in the City's matching funds program to disclose which of their contributors do business with the City. The law, passed by voters in a 1998 referendum, also authorizes the CFB to restrict or prohibit such contributions.
"As a former City Council member, I always encouraged transparency in the workings of City government," said City Clerk Robles. "Now as a commissioner and administrator, I continue to believe that openness is best. So I am most honored to be associated with Mayor Bloomberg and DoITT in this endeavor. I am sure that interested parties will be pleased with the ease and efficiency with which they can retrieve information on lobbyists who do business with the City of New York from this new system."
"DoITT's creation of a publicly-accessible lobbyist database is another laudable step in furthering public disclosure of entities that do business with the City," said NYC Campaign Finance Board Executive Director Nicole A. Gordon. "The Board looks forward to continued successful work on expanding the 'doing business' project to cover additional subject areas and to make information that is available compatible with the Board's searchable database of campaign contributions."
"This new database is part of the City's continuing commitment to improving government transparency," said DoITT Commissioner Gino Menchini. "No one knows better than Mayor Bloomberg the power of technology to improve the delivery of information - and the power of information to improve government accountability. That's the idea behind the 3-1-1 Citizen Service Center, and it's the idea behind both NYC Lobbyist Search and NYC Vendor Search. Through these new databases, we are using technology to make government more open, accessible, and accountable."
Lobbyists who register with the City Clerk are required to file quarterly reports, which previously had been available for public viewing only by visiting the Office of the City Clerk at 1 Centre Street. Each May, the Clerk's Office has published and distributed an annual report of lobbying activity. Now, the quarterly reports will be made available online, allowing far better access to current information throughout the year.
Edward Skyler/Jonathan Werbell (212) 788-2958