Comptroller of the Commonwealth recognizes Sunshine Week, raises awareness of the importance of open government
The Office of the Comptroller of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (CTR) is pleased to recognize Sunshine Week, March 12-18, 2023. Sunshine Week is an annual event that highlights the importance of open government, and offers any opportunity to highlight the work of organizations that work in the transparency and accountability space.
Sunshine Week was launched in 2005 by the American Society of News Editors. Government transparency offers many benefits for the government and citizens, including helping increase government efficiency and effectiveness. CTR is spreading the word on government transparency this Sunshine Week on social media to lend a voice to the open government movement.
“Transparency of government finance is fundamental to ensuring government accountability,” said Comptroller of the Commonwealth William McNamara. “We at the Office of the Comptroller continually strive to find new ways to connect residents with this information, helping them to see how their money is used in state government.”
CTR has implemented numerous initiatives to maximize the goal of transparency:
CTR became the first statewide agency in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to implement NextRequest, an online public records portal for management of public records requests. NextRequest offers a searchable database of documents provided by CTR in response to public records requests dating back to 2019. Users have downloaded 2,883 documents through NextRequest since CTR’s implementation of this technology in January 2020.
Public Records Requests
CTR has received and responded to an increasing number of public records requests, totaling more than 500 requests since 2016. During calendar year 2022, CTR responded to 103 public records requests, with an average response time of 6.1 business days.
News Organization Requests
In 2022, CTR has responded to requests from many news organizations, including The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, WBUR, NBC News, NBC10 Boston, WCVB, Boston 25 News, CommonWealth, and State House News Service.
CTR maintains the CTHRU website, located at https://www.macomptroller.org/cthru/, which is an online repository of data on all aspects of state finance, including statewide payroll and statewide spending. In 2022, users have viewed the CTHRU portal 4.6 million times. In recent years, the Office of the Comptroller has added new datasets to CTHRU, including:
- Commonwealth Revenues – Virtually all tax and non-tax revenue collected by the Commonwealth, dating back to 2006.
- Non-Budgeted Special Revenue Funds and Trusts – Information on operating accounts that are not subject to the Commonwealth’s budgeting process.
- Commonwealth Stabilization (“Rainy Day”) Fund – Balance of the Commonwealth’s reserve, including interest earned, income tax withholding on certain transfers of Lottery prizes, 10% of the gaming profits generated by MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor casinos.
- Settlements and Judgments – Payments, by department, of settlements and judgments from the Settlements and Judgments appropriation account.
- Other Pay – Detailed information about the Statewide Payroll category “Other Pay”, comprising standby pay, shift differential pay, roll call pay, stipends / bonus pay / awards, research activity / summer salary compensation, professional development, police detail, and salaries – supplemental.
About the Office of the Comptroller
The Office of the Comptroller ensures that the more than $50 billion in annual transactions authorized by the general appropriations act and supplemental appropriations are executed in accordance with all statutory requirements and recorded in compliance with accounting standards. We also oversee capital assets, federal funding inflows, and other transactions. We also own and maintain statewide payments and payroll systems, safeguarding critical financial information. We operate in support of our partners, the financial staff at more than 150 departments and agencies across the Commonwealth.
As stewards of the public trust, we aspire to inspire confidence by maintaining our core principles: clarity, integrity, and accountability.
The powers and obligations of the Office of the Comptroller are generally dictated by M.G.L. c. 7A.