Clerk typists for the city of Los Angeles make up to around $60,000 annually, airport custodians make nearly $50,000 and the majority of water and power customer service representatives make between $60,000 and $82,000, according to data released via a new website by City Controller Ron Galperin Wednesday.
Declaring that he is "throwing the doors open'' on the city's finances, Galperin released millions of lines of data on city payroll, revenue and spending to the public on a new website dubbed ControlPanelLA.
The website's release comes on the same day opening statements were delivered in the prosecution of the former Bell assistant city manager, who is accused of being involved in a conspiracy to secretly draft contracts in which she and the then city manager received huge pay raises without city council approval.
Much less is secret for Los Angeles than ever before with the data available on the new website.
"The public will have, for the first time, direct and centralized access to a wealth of this data," Galperin said. "And you can review it, search it, analyze it, download it, share it online anytime.''
Most of the data was previously only accessible to a limited group of city officials and includes detailed payroll information for nearly 50,000 city employees, payments to hundreds of outside vendors and city revenue from various sources such as parking tickets and dog license fees.
The website, which can be accessed at https://controllerdata.lacity.org/, was developed by Socrata, a government data software company based in Seattle, under a one-year, $84,000 contract, according to Chief Deputy City Controller spokeswoman Claire Bartels.
ControlPanelLA gives Angelenos the ability to delve into financial information in minute detail, including looking up city employees' actual pay by quarter, and a "checkbook'' section showing individual payments made out to contractors and vendors.
The information can be organized as pie charts or line graphs that allow site users to rank and compare data. According to the website, the city's number one expenditure for outside vendors in 2013 was on lawsuits and legal settlements, which came to $108.7 million.
Still, some details are missing. For example, under the Fiscal Year 2013 External Vendor Payment file, an amount of $81,491,423.46 is listed with only "Mayor" listed as the department and "925" as the vendor name, transaction date, fund name and type, expenditure type and government activity. To find out what exactly that $81,491,423.46 bought them, L.A. residents will have to dig further.
Galperin said he hopes to continue adding to the website and is working with City Attorney Mike Feuer to obtain the "legal go-ahead'' to release specific information about lawsuits and settlements.
The city's financial data can be downloaded through the site, a feature that civic engagement strategist Catherine Geanuracos said could prove exciting for software and applications developers in Los Angeles.
"Most other cities are further ahead than we are on this process . . . but we're catching up really quickly,'' she said. "My hope is that L.A. leapfrogs ahead, takes the benefit of all the learning that's happened in other major cities and applies it here,'' said Geanuracos.
As you browse the Control Panel L.A. site, let us know what you think—both of what you think of the site as a whole and about the information you find there. Are city salaries reasonable? Will a site like this help keep the city honest?