Open Government Resources
Open Government Resources
Since taking office, Governor Tom Wolf has taken significant steps forward in making our government more open and accountable to taxpayers. This guide will connect you with government transparency resources.
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Governor Wolf's Schedule
Governor Wolf started posting his calendar during the first weeks of his administration and is the first Pennsylvania governor to share his full calendar online publicly.
Governor Wolf’s public appearance schedule for the day is posted each morning, and the full weekly calendar is posted every Friday at governor.pa.gov/schedule .
Every month, expenses incurred by members of Governor Wolf’s cabinet are posted for public view at governor.pa.gov/cabinet-expense-report .
OIG Investigation Summaries
Routine summaries of completed investigations are now available online in support of Governor Wolf’s call to agencies to provide more transparency and be more accountable to the citizens of Pennsylvania.
The Office of Inspector General publishes annual reports and investigative report summaries to keep the citizens of the Commonwealth informed of the agency’s progress fighting fraud, waste and abuse in government programs and public assistance programs administered by the Department of Human Services.
How can I get in contact with the Office of Inspector General and can I do so anonymously?
The Office of Inspector General receives reports of waste, fraud, abuse, and employee misconduct in the Commonwealth’s executive agencies and programs by phone through its toll-free number 1-855-FRAUD-PA (1-855-372-8372) and through its website, oig.pa.gov . Yes, complaints can also be filed anonymously.
On January 20, 2015, Governor Tom Wolf signed Executive Order 2015-2 , instituting a competitive process for the procurement of commonwealth legal services. The executive order set forth that all contracts awarded for legal services by the Office of General Counsel or any Department are to be procured through competitive bids and that the results are to be made available online.
Competitive procurement of legal services reforms what was an obscure process into a process that is efficient, ethical, and transparent in securing legal counsel.
This new system of procurement delivers high quality and cost-effective legal counsel by establishing qualified pools of attorneys and firms through a transparent process.
Method One: Pre-Qualification
Step 1: Request for Qualifications (RFQ)
When it is determined that the Office of General Counsel requires new specialized legal services (e.g. bond counsel services work), the office issues a Request for Proposal (RFP) for interested firms to submit a Statement of Qualifications. All firms wishing to participate in any capacity for the specified category of legal services for the commonwealth must submit their qualifications pursuant to the RFQ, which outlines the minimum qualifications attorneys and firms must meet. The goal of the RFQ is to prequalify a general pool of firms to perform the specified type of legal service.
RFQs are posted for the legal public on the Department of General Services’ eMarketplace, www.emarketplace.state.pa.us .
Step 2: Establishing a General Pool
After the solicitation window has closed for a RFQ, the commonwealth reviews the Statement of Qualifications submitted by interested firms and those meeting the minimum qualifications contained in the RFQ become the general pool of firms. Firms in the general pool are then granted a standard contract with costs to be negotiated for any work to be done at a later date. Only firms in the general pool can perform stated specialized legal services for the commonwealth.
This prequalification process has already created a pool of several firms qualified to perform bond counsel services work. An updated list of these firms can be found on the Office of General Counsel website, www.ogc.state.pa.us .
Step 3: Request for Proposal (RFP)
When a department or Office of General Counsel demonstrates need for legal services for which there exists a general pool of firms, a RFP that sets forth the Statement of Work and any additional qualifications is issued on the Department of General Services’ eMarketplace. Only the pre-qualified pool of firms for the specified legal category is able to bid on the RFP.
Attorneys and firms from the pre-qualified pool will be advised to submit proposals outlining their staffing needs, work costs, and qualifications. Proposals will be evaluated quantitatively and qualitatively among a committee comprised of Office of General Counsel, the respective Department(s), and selected representation from the Administration.
Upon selection, the procurement process and winning firm will be submitted for the General Counsel’s approval, as required under the Commonwealth Attorneys Act. Once approved, costs may be further negotiated with the selected firm and an engagement letter will be issued by Office of General Counsel.
Method Two: Open Bidding
Sometimes there is a need for legal services that fall outside of a specialized pre-qualified pools. In these cases, an RFP is issued to the legal public for anyone to apply. The RFP sets forth the Statement of Work and any additional qualifications needed to perform that legal service.
The RFP process in this method mirrors that of the process outlined in method one:
- – The RFP is issued and attorneys and firms from the legal public are invited to submit proposals for that legal service, outlining their staffing needs, work costs, and qualifications.
- – Proposals will be evaluated quantitatively and qualitatively among a committee comprised of OGC, the respective Department(s), and selected representation from the Administration.
- – Upon selection, the procurement process and winning firm will be submitted for the General Counsel’s approval, as required under the Commonwealth Attorneys Act.
- – Once approved, costs may be further negotiated with the selected firm and an engagement letter will be issued by OGC.
You can find current outside counsel opportunities on the Office of General Counsel website .
Open Data Initiative
Governor Wolf and state agencies are collaboratively bringing Pennsylvania to the 21st Century with the launch of OpenDataPA , Pennsylvania’s first open data portal. This central repository of Pennsylvania’s open data serves as both a deposit location for state information and an extraction point for citizens — eliminating the need for users to scour dozens of individual state agency websites for information.
What does Open Data mean?
Open data refers to data in a format that can be understood by a computer and used freely by anyone, free of any constraints.
Here are some key principles incorporated into the development of OpenDataPA :
- Availability and Access: the data must be available as a whole in a convenient and modifiable form.
- Reuse and Redistribution: the data must be provided under terms that permit reuse and redistribution including the intermixing with other datasets.
- Universal Participation: everyone must be able to use, reuse, and redistribute the data — free of restrictions.
Where can I learn how to use OpenDataPA?
At first, navigating through large amounts of data may be overwhelming. That is why OpenDataPA has tutorials available to get anyone quickly started. These short tutorials will provide helpful tips on how to alter the way data is presented, filter information, and swiftly create charts.
On January 20, 2015, Governor Wolf signed an executive order banning his administration from accepting gifts . The executive order, signed the day of Governor Wolf’s inauguration, bars all state workers under the governor’s jurisdiction from accepting or soliciting anything of value. Several independent state commissions, authorities, and other agencies have also imposed a gift ban on their employees. Governor Wolf is the first Pennsylvania governor to ban gifts for executive branch employees.
Governor Wolf has utilized new media to communicate with the public, holding the first ever governor’s Twitter and Facebook town halls where he responded directly to Pennsylvanians asking him questions. Digital platforms include a website , blog , Twitter , Facebook , Instagram , Flickr , and YouTube .
Government Reform Plan
Special interests still wield too much power and influence in Harrisburg, which is one of the reasons why it has been, and continues to be, broken. We still have much work to do to take on the special interests and status quo.
That’s why Governor Wolf announced his “Government that Works” Reform Plan , calling for the banning of gifts, increasing transparency, contracting reform, increasing lobbying oversight, and campaign finance reform.
- Banning gifts across all of government. The governor’s Gift Ban Executive Order already prohibits executive branch employees from accepting gifts. This ban would span all government workers and would curtail the ability of special interests to influence public officials with gifts and restores public trust in their government.
- Requiring outside income disclosure of the amount of compensation received by public employees from outside employment and ban paid service on corporate boards.
- Increasing lobbying oversight to increase the Department of State’s ability to review lobbying disclosures and make referrals to the Ethics Commission.
- Campaign finance reform to make sure government serves citizens, not the special interests with the deepest pockets.
- Contracting reform to implement broader “pay-to-play” provisions requiring the disclosure of campaign contributions made by parties seeking contracts.
Transparency and Accountability
Anyone can view annual salaries or hourly/daily wages earned by state employees.
Employee salaries information is available on the Pennsylvania PennWATCH website . Salary and wage amounts do not include other forms of compensation, such as overtime. That data can be found on the Employee Compensation page .
It is important to note that not all salaries listed are purely funded by state tax dollars; some salaries are paid with federal funds, tolls, or fees.
The Department of General Services’ Pennsylvania E Marketplace is a centralized online location for learning about state contract bidding and award information. Pennsylvanians can access current and past solicitations and tabulations, awardees, contracts, sole source procurement of supplies, emergency requests for supplies, and upcoming procurements.
Increasing requirements related to disclosure of campaign donations in connection with state contracts is also a main tenet of Governor Wolf’s “Government That Works” Reform initiative . The governor supports efforts that would require businesses that have been awarded contracts to disclose all political contributions made by its officers and employees during the preceding year.
Managed by the Pennsylvania Department of State, the Pennsylvania Lobbying Disclosure Registration website provides Pennsylvanians access to a lobbyist directory and a place to file a complaint with the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission, as well as allows lobbyists to register with the department.
Increasing lobbing disclosure is also a main tenet of Governor Wolf’s “Government That Works” Reform initiative . Governor Wolf will increase staffing at the Department of State to crack down on lobbyists by randomly reviewing lobbying disclosure filings for completeness and accuracy.
Campaign Finance Reports
Pennsylvanians can access campaign finance reports, independent expenditures and more from the Department of State.
Reforming and increasing campaign finance transparency is also crucial component of Governor Wolf’s “Government That Works” Reform initiative . Governor Wolf supports strong campaign finance reform that would for the first time place limits on contributions to candidates seeking elected office, implement aggregate limits for races, place sensible restrictions on Political Action Committees (PACs), and strengthen reporting and disclosure requirements across the board. In addition, the prohibition of the use of campaign funds for personal expenses, including legal fees.
Statements of Financial Interest
Pennsylvanians can search public officials’ statements of financial interest forms on the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission’s eLibrary website . Statements of financial interests forms that have been filed with the commission through the previous five years are available on the site.
Increasing financial interest transparency is also a central part of Governor Wolf’s “Government That Works” Reform initiative . Officials are currently required to disclose sources of outside income, but not the amount paid, or any information about the work that was performed.
Ethics Commission Rulings
The Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission publishes rulings on their eLibrary website for public access. Orders, opinions, advices, and Gaming Lists are available via search or browsing.
Improving Pennsylvanians’ trust in government is one of Governor Wolf’s main governing principles. That’s why his “Government That Works” Reform initiative calls for a gift ban for all public officials. Pennsylvania is one of ten states with no specific law on limits on gifts to public officials, who are free to take any gift—including cash—so long as the gift is disclosed.
Contacting Your Government
Under the Right-To-Know Law, all records are presumed to be public records unless disclosure is barred by: (1) state or federal law or regulation; (2) judicial order; (3), privilege, e.g., attorney-client or doctor-patient; or (4) one of the exceptions in Section 708 of the Right-to-Know Law.
To learn more about about Pennsylvania’s Right To Know Law, please visit the Office of Open Records Citizen Guide to the Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law.
How can I submit a Right-To-Know request?
Right-To-Know forms can be found on the Open Records website .
What agency manages this program?
The Pennsylvania Office of Open Records manages all requests. View the full list of Right-To-Know officers .
Participate in your government by contacting your elected officials. The Pennsylvania General Assembly provides Pennsylvanians a resource for finding and contacting your state legislators by address or by county.
Contact Governor Wolf
Since taking office, Governor Wolf has made it a priority to maintain open communication with the people he serves, Pennsylvanians. The Governor’s Office of Constituent Services responds to all constituent questions, engagement requests for greetings, proclamations, or recognition of personal and professional milestones. Find out how you can email, write, or call the Governor’s Office of Constituent Services .
Laws and the Legislature
Pennsylvania Laws and Constitution
Statutes of Pennsylvania and the Constitution of Pennsylvania are available to all Pennsylvanians.
Bills and Amendments
The Pennsylvania General Assembly provides a centralized online location where Pennsylvanians can keep up with bills, resolutions, and amendments progressing through the legislature. Search by legislative bill or amendment number, keyword, or sponsor on the legislature’s website .
Legislature Schedule and Session Days
House and Senate calendars, session reports, and committee meeting schedules are available on the Pennsylvania General Assembly website .
House and Senate Session Live Feed
Pennsylvanians can watch live video feeds of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate on the legislature website .
State agencies make payments to a wide variety of entities, including local governments, school districts and businesses, with both state and federal funds. This information will provide you a birds-eye view of how funds are distributed. State spending data is aggregated by Pennsylvania PennWATCH .
State government receives revenues from taxes, fees, investments and loans and other sources. Revenues are designated by law into various funds to carry out specific activities. The General Fund is used to finance most state programs. State revenue data is aggregated by Pennsylvania PennWatch .
The state constitution requires the Governor to submit a budget annually for the coming fiscal year, which begins on July 1. The General Assembly may alter the proposed budget, but the Governor may veto individual appropriations passed by the Assembly. The Governor may also reduce individual appropriations, but may not increase them. The budget, as well as the General Fund, includes state and federal funds.A general breakdown of the state budget is provided by Pennsylvania PennWATCH .
Data and Reports
On April 19, 2016, Governor Wolf signed an executive order to release agency data to the public in an open, accessible format, and on August 22, 2016, his administration launched OpenDataPA , Pennsylvania’s first open data portal.
A vast improvement over the static agency reports of the past, OpenDataPA will both release newly collected datasets and consolidate datasets from other state agency websites to create a one-stop shop for all of the commonwealth’s open data. Citizens, researchers, media, and developers can now browse through the first-released datasets at data.pa.gov , the home of OpenDataPA.
Past Administration Performance Reports
Performance reports allow Pennsylvanians to review the activities, challenges and accomplishments of 30 commonwealth agencies and see state government efforts to deliver quality services and improve the lives of Pennsylvania’s citizens. Performance reports are available online as far back as the 2006-07 budget and hosted on the Pennsylvania Office of the Budget website .
Food Safety Inspection Results
Food and safety inspection results are routinely updated on the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s website. Pennsylvanians can review the latest inspection report for restaurants and retail food facilities across the state.
Conventional and Unconventional Oil and Gas Wells Locations
The Department of Environmental Protection’s Oil and Gas Mapping website shows the location of both conventional and unconventional oil and gas wells, including producing and non-producing wells. Users can also search the map via a specific address, county, latitude and longitude, municipality, or zip code. For best results, Internet Explorer should be used when viewing the Oil and Gas Mapping website .
Real-Time and Static Transportation-Related Data
The Department of Transportation makes real-time and static transportation-related data available for public use and research efforts by commercial vendors, transportation agencies, researchers, the media, and others.
Transportation Projects (ACT 89)
The Department of Transportation Projects website shows the progress of highway and bridge projects financed by House Bill 1060, active construction projects that are underway, and long-term transportation improvement plans.
School Performance Profiles
The Department of Education’s Pennsylvania School Performance Profile offers a web-based resource for districts/schools to communicate performance results to various constituencies and assist districts and schools in aligning and focusing resources for continuous improvement. The site also provides a building level academic score for educators as part of the Educator Effectiveness System, provides information used in determining federal accountability status for Title I schools, and informs the public of the academic performance measures of each school.
Transportation Mapping Data
The Department of Transportation’s mapping data portal provides access to all published Geospatial Information System (GIS) transportation data for mapping, styling, charting, downloading or sharing. This archive of Pennsylvania maps may be organized by categories or broadly surveyed using the it’s search function.
Conservation and Natural Resources Mapping Data
This Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ mapping data portal provides access to all published Geospatial Information System (GIS) data, which includes over 130 datasets relative to state parks, state forests, geology and recreational properties.
Community and Economic Development Grants, Loans, or Tax Credits
For businesses and communities seeking funding for a startup, expansion, or community project or site revitalization in Pennsylvania, the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) offers a variety of programs to help. Information on executed contracts for grant, loan or tax credit filed through DCED are accessible on the Investment Tracker website .
Environmental Protection Data and Reports
The Department of Environmental Protection provides easy access to a variety of online reports and key data about the many programs the agency administers. Data made available includes land recycling reports, radiation protection reports, storage tank reports, water reports, laboratory reports, and hazardous site cleanup reports.