SPRINGFIELD — The state has cut back on the information it shares with the public on its “transparency” website.

By Benjamin Yount

SPRINGFIELD — The state has cut back on the information it shares with the public on its “transparency” website.

The state’s transparency portal, created in the spring of 2010, no longer carries state employees’ salaries from 2008, 2009 and 2010.

“This last summer we went on the website looking for past salary information, and noticed it was no longer there,” said Mark Cavers, a government reform policy analyst with think tank Illinois Policy Institute, or IPI. “(The state) took the extra step of taking this information down.”

Taxpayers, however, can find current salaries for state employees as well as state spending and the number of rest stops, among other information.

“Transparency is supposed to be about letting taxpayers see where their money is being spent,”

When IPI pressed for a reason as to why only salary information for 2011 was posted, Cavers said it was a “policy decision.”

Illinois Statehouse News reached out to the Illinois Department of Central Management Services, or CMS, which operates the transparency website, and was not provided with an explanation.

However, CMS spokeswoman Alka Nayyar did tell other media outlets that the information is available to anyone who files a Freedom of Information Act request.

But Cavers said having to FOIA every scrap of information defeats the purpose of having a transparency website.

State Rep. Mike Tryon, R-Crystal Lake, who wrote the legislation to create the transparency website, said the taxpayers need information to hold Illinois’ government accountable.

“The benefit of the transparency portal is that people can see (past) contracts awarded and raises that have been given. Without that historical data of state expenditures, it doesn’t allow it to have its best aspect — whether that’s utilized by the public or management or anyone else wanting to see that information,” Tryon said.

Tryon added that if Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration continues to remove public information from the website, he may look at strengthening the law.

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