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L.A. Now Live: Discuss the L.A. controller's transparency website

October 24, 2013|By Joseph Serna
  • Control Panel L.A., a website launched by the city controller, allows visitors to download, sort and analyze data on city employee salaries and more than 100,000 payments to contractors.
Control Panel L.A., a website launched by the city controller, allows visitors…

Talk with Times reporters Michael Finnegan and Ben Welsh at 9 a.m. about the Los Angeles controller’s new website detailing city revenue and spending.

The website, Control Panel L.A., gives users access to a huge volume of data on taxpayer expenditures for police, sanitation, street repairs and other services — information that previously would have taken weeks or months to get through formal requests for records.

With user-friendly icons and drop-down menus, the site enables visitors to download, sort and analyze data on city employee salaries and more than 100,000 payments to contractors. The project's launch is an initial step in the city's struggle to catch up with New York, Chicago, San Francisco and other cities that have embraced the movement to make government more transparent.

The system has significant gaps, including a lack of names attached to salaries. It shows a clerk typist with an annual salary of less than $53,000 receiving more than $300,000 in pay last year; the website gives no explanation.

The site also gives no details on more than $100 million in liability claims paid by the city as it struggled to recover from a fiscal crisis that led to deep service cuts. Also absent from the site are spending breakdowns on construction projects of independent agencies that run the city's water and power systems, the Port of Los Angeles, and airports.

At a news conference, Galperin said he would fix those shortcomings and others. The project was hurried along and made public to minimize resistance from city officials, he said.

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