As part of their efforts to promote and facilitate improved governance through greater transparency and civic participation, OPEN Puerto Rico and the Commonwealth’s Office of the Electoral Comptroller (OEC) announced Thursday the availability of a new tool to interact with the information available on political campaign contributions.
Through OPEN Puerto Rico’s online portal any citizen can search for contribution data based on donor, candidate, and political party.
“We’re honored and pleased that the Office of the Electoral Comptroller has deposited their faith in us to publish their information,” said Alvin Quiñones Oppenheimer, co-founder and member of the board of directors of OPEN Puerto Rico, adding the availability of this data “is great news for the people of Puerto Rico.”
“We’re certain that the easy access to this information will contribute to greater governmental oversight and accountability of our government,” he said.
The information on political campaign contributions is public but until today one had to go to the Office of the Electoral Comptroller to access this data. The OEC is developing new methods to provide access to their information. However, it decided to collaborate with OPEN Puerto Rico to develop this new tool given the organization’s proven track record and established citizen engagement platform.
Electoral Comptroller, Manuel A. Torres Nieves said “the collaboration with OPEN Puerto Rico provides a new tool that promotes transparency and facilitates and centralizes access to the information available for citizens.”
“We hope that people will get more involved, use the data and increase their level of participation in the oversight and enforcement of political campaign finance regulations in Puerto Rico,” he said.
Meanwhile, Quiñones said the publication of the data allows Puerto Rico to achieve national standards of transparency for political campaign contributions at the federal and state level.
“We hope that the easy access to this information will help avoid situations that could be seen as conflicts of interests or political favoritism in the award of government contracts and the naming of positions in the government,” Quiñones said.
“In addition to the data on campaign contributions, OPEN Puerto Rico will continue to work with the OEC to publish the details of the expenses that are incurred by the political parties that access the Electoral Fund. That way, citizens will be able to see how the political parties utilize public funds in their campaigns,” he added.
OPEN Puerto Rico also provides another tool on its site for citizens to submit public information requests to the government and then track the progress of that request.
“We recognize that citizens are frustrated by the government’s lack of transparency and easy access to data. Previously, there wasn’t a centralized and uniform way for citizens to channel and monitor the progress of their information requests, which in many cases go unanswered by government agencies,” said Edward Calvesbert-Juliá, president and member of the board of directors of OPEN Puerto Rico
“We hope that by publishing the metrics about the pending requests at each agency, we can avoid the need to resort to legal actions for the government to comply with its constitutional obligation,” he added.