After Long Campaign By Watchdogs, City Publishes Lobbying Information as Open Data
Reveals Detailed Lobbying Activity in Filings Going Back 5 Years
Makes NYC Leader in Lobbying Transparency
New York City Clerk’s Office has published the dataset underlying its lobbying database for the first time, revealing detailed lobbying activity reported bimonthly by lobbyists dating back to 2014. The dataset was long sought by Reinvent Albany, which advocated for years for its release.
The dataset, for the first time, makes available in downloadable and spreadsheet form lobbying activity data reported by lobbyists to the Clerk’s Office in their bimonthly filings. The data includes for each two-month filing, names of lobbyists, compensation, expenses, specific entities and persons lobbied, subjects lobbied, bill numbers, among other information.
The dataset can now be downloaded and analyzed by the public to identify the government agencies and officials most frequently targeted by lobbyists or the number and names of lobbyists seeking to influence decision making on a particular subject or bill. Previously, this required analyses of many individual filings of numerous lobbyists.
The publication of the lobbying activity data is the culmination of years of advocacy by Reinvent Albany and good government groups. The release of the dataset in the City’s Open Data portal was first requested by Reinvent Albany, Citizens Union and the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) in April 2018, following the creation of the new City lobbying database in February 2018. The new lobbying database was established by Local Law 29 of 2013, which required the City Clerk’s Office make lobbying activity more transparent by disclosing reporting of specific lobbying activity rather than simply general information lobbyists disclosed on their registration form. The 2013 legislation was itself the culmination of a two-year review of the lobbying laws by the New York City Lobbying Commission, which held 7 hearings between March and September 2011, and issued a final report in March 2013.
The Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) has for years provided on its website the underlying data for its database, but the information it collected from lobbyists was less specific and revealing than data collected by the City Clerk. JCOPE recently promulgated rules for reporting lobbying activity and in 2019 modernized its database, which could potentially make it as transparent as New York City.
Reinvent Albany thanks the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics (MODA), the City Council and City Clerk’s Office for ultimately reaching this milestone and making New York City a leader in lobbying transparency.
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