By Ben Present
Of the Legal Staff
Journalists and interested Pennsylvanians will soon have easier access to more financial information for the state’s trio of appellate courts and their administrative offices, the state Supreme Court ordered Thursday.
The Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts said in a press release that it would be expanding Rule of Judicial Administration 509 to include expenditure and personnel salary information for the Commonwealth, Superior and Supreme courts on a website expected to be made available by the middle of next month.
The release noted the Supreme Court’s decision to expand access to its finances was aligned with the goals espoused by recent legislation aimed at providing Pennsylvanians with more information about government spending.
“The expansion of the fiscal disclosure policy is consistent with the principles of the recently enacted (Pennsylvania Web Accountability, Transparency and Contract Hub) Act, balanced with the Supreme Court’s constitutional authority to independently administer the judicial branch,” the press release said. “Like this action by the Supreme Court, PennWATCH is aimed at fostering accountability and transparency by mandating the posting of state government expenditures and compensation on a searchable website.”
In 2009, the Supreme Court created a website offering search options for summaries of state court contracts and purchases of $5,000 or more. Thursday’s order expands Rule 509 on a number of levels. Among the financial records that will be contained on the website, according to the release:
- Appropriation names, descriptions and annual funding amounts.
- Expenditure data, including the names and addresses of the person or entity receiving payment, how much, and the applicable appropriation and fiscal year.
- Annual salaries for court positions (updated monthly), total compensation for the prior year.
The individual names tied to each position will not be listed on the website “out of concern for employee security and respect for personal privacy,” the release said.