Signaling its commitment to transparency, the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics today presented www.transparenciafinanciera.pr, a website through which citizens can obtain a total breakdown of the agency’s transactions since it began operations.
This open data platform allows users to search by type of expenditure or by vendor name and it produces from relatively general data, such as the total expenditures of the Institute, to more specific data points, such as the number of transactions, including the salary of the executive director and other employees, as well as payments to suppliers, among others.
The website also gives the option of viewing the data in dollars and cents, as well as in percentage terms, Executive Director Mario Marazzi said.
“The Institute is mandated by Law to promote the accessibility of data. One way in which we do this is through the coordination of interagency projects. We’re pleased to release this new platform through which any Puerto Rico government entity can publish on the Internet in a detailed and continuous manner updates to its financial transactions, requiring neither additional resources nor technical knowledge without compromising existing technological resources,” he said.
For example, in the past fiscal year 2015 the Institute invested nearly $1.2 million of which $391,724, or 33.7 percent, was allocated to the payroll or regular employees, $163,795, or 14 percent, to specialized professional services and consulting, $79,704, or 6.9 percent, in payments related to the rental of facilities and $48,000, or 4.1 percent, to legal services. Marazzi, who holds the highest position a the agency, earned $128,000.
The Institute’s consolidated budget for fiscal 2015 was nearly $1.4 million. Meanwhile, this fiscal year 2016 the consolidated budget is $2.7 million, of which some $1.3 million had been spent through mid-April. The Commonwealth’s consolidated budget is currently $28.8 billion, which means the Institute’s budget represents 0.004 percent of that total. According to the Institute’s charter law, its initial budget should have been $5 million, Marazzi said.
“The commitment to financial transparency has to be one of the guiding principles for the Puerto Rico to which we aspire,” Marazzi added.
At this early stage the website only provides detailed information of the transactions of the Institute since it began operations in 2007. But, over time, the Institute expects that when citizens get to know this new tool and support it, more Puerto Rico government entities will become a part of the initiative.
“Our crisis is not just financial. It is also a crisis in the confidence and trust of our citizenry with regards to their government. In this crisis, I have no doubt that transparency in our public finances is the first step needed to regain the confidence of our citizens,” he said.