Lawmakers demand compliance with Wis. records law - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Lawmakers demand compliance with Wis. records law

By Tony Galli - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook | Blog

MADISON (WKOW) -- A group of lawmakers asked Governor Doyle to insure state agencies comply with a law on publicly-listing state contract information.

The Appleton Post-Crescent reported only 14 of 98 state agencies listed contracts on the state's Contract Sunshine web site, four years after the law creating the web site passed.

"There's an expectation that the contracts should be reported,"   Sen. Rob Cowles (R-Green Bay) said.

Cowles, Rep. Dean Kaufert (R-Neenah) and Rep. Bob Ziegelbauer (D-Manitowoc) wrote a letter to Doyle asking for action.   The lawmakers said state agencies enter into contracts involving billions of dollars in total and taxpayers deserve the information.

Gubernatorial spokesperson Adam Collins said Doyle signed the legislation creating the web site and wants to see it succeed.   Collins said stakeholders are working together to make Contract Sunshine "functional and effective."

The Contract Sunshine web site is operated by the state government accountability board.

GAB executive director Kevin Kennedy said Contract Sunshine lacks compatibility with the computer systems used by several agencies.

"They're already creating this information for the purchase orders on their contracts, but they can't put it in electronically.   They have to key it in."

UW-System spokesperson David Giroux said approximately 40,000 contracts are inked annually across the system's more than 20 campuses, and more staff would be needed for manual entry of contract information to the web site.

A web site operated by the Wisconsin Office of Recovery and Reinvestment includes detailed information on the millions of dollars in federal funds received by the state.

"It's a good model for us,"  Kennedy said.

Kennedy said the recovery web site's later development and increased resource support helped it avoid some of Contract Sunshine's problems.

"We need to know which entities are contracting with the state,"   Cowles said.  

"People deserve that, just like they deserve to know who's influencing a piece of legislation.   We were one of the leaders in the nation on that, but now we've fallen behind on the contract piece."

Cowles told WKOW27 News he may seek a limited audit of the workings of the Contract Sunshine web site.

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