Website on Pennsylvania spending debuts

    Legislation passed in Pennsylvania a year and a half ago called for creation of a “searchable” website with data on state spending.

     Finally, the site is up and running.

    The PennWATCH site is not exactly searchable. For instance, you can’t type in what you want and find it with the click of a button. But users can browse the site for things such as different kinds of expenses by state agencies.

    Government reform activist Eric Epstein of Rock the Capital says he takes issue with the expiration date that comes with the site. It includes no data from before this fiscal year starting in July 2011 and it will only keep data archived for eight years at a time.

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    “In order for us to tackle the problems, in order for taxpayers to make informed decisions; they need to see how we got there,” he said. “And you know, my concern is, with the absence of historical data, there’s no context.”

    But Epstein echoes a point made by state officials — the site is a work in progress.

    According to the secretary who oversees PennWATCH, updates are already being considered, and expanding the information available on the site won’t require more legislative action.

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