This city site is like a Facebook for Philadelphia lobbyists - Technical.ly Philly

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Feb. 6, 2014 8:30 am

This city site is like a Facebook for Philadelphia lobbyists

The site was created as part of the city's lobbying law, which requires lobbyists to register online and to file reports about how much money they spent trying to influence government. The law was passed in 2010, but the city's contract to get the lobbying database software running failed in 2012.

The American Beverage Association was one of the top firms lobbying Philadelphia in 2012. Photo by Flickr user @vox_efx, used under a Creative Commons license.

Wanna see who’s lobbying in Philadelphia?

This new city site has a directory (with headshots) of the city’s registered lobbyists. By April, it should have data on who they’re lobbying and how much they spent doing so.

See the directory here.

The site was created as part of the city’s lobbying law, which requires lobbyists to register online and to file reports about how much money they spent trying to influence government. The law was passed in 2010, but the city’s contract to get the lobbying database software running failed in 2012.

The second attempt at the project is now nearly complete, said Nedda Massar, deputy director of the city’s Board of Ethics, the office in charge of implementing the lobbying law.

As of mid-January, lobbyists could register online and the public could search the directory, Massar said. You can also download the data in .csv format.

The next step is the expense reports. Under the law, lobbyists must file their expense reports every quarter. Acclaim Systems is working on getting the software ready by April for the first quarter reports, Massar said.

Acclaim Systems is a Trevose-based company that’s also working on the state’s lobbying disclosure system. (The RFP for the lobbying system was up on the city site in the fall of 2012.)

Massar called the system “a huge step” in making lobbying in Philadelphia more transparent.

“Before January 2012, there was no [lobbying] information available anywhere because the law didn’t require it,” she said.

In January 2012, Massar’s office began posting PDFs of the data they had online and has continued to do so through 2013. Civic hacker Casey Thomas used that data to create lobbying app lobbying.ph.

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An API for the lobbying data is in the works, Massar said.

Read more on The Sunlight Foundation.

Organizations: City of Philadelphia
People: Casey Cesari
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