Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

Online Financial Interest Disclosures of Top San Francisco Officials Now Accessible as ‘Open Data’

For release: Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Contact: Steven Massey (415) 252-3100

The San Francisco Ethics Commission today released a new online tool to provide the public with improved access to the electronically filed financial disclosures of more than 500 City officials, including elected officials, department heads, and members of boards and commissions who are required to file a Statements of Economic Interests, or “Form 700,” under State law.  A new search feature available on the Commission’s website now enables the public to search within the contents of officials’ Form 700s, and across all filers, rather than having the forms viewable only individually in pdf format.  In addition, in continued partnership with the Mayor’s Open Data initiative, the Commission this week made Form 700 data also accessible through the SF OpenData web portal, making San Francisco the first California city to offer electronically filed financial disclosure records of public officials as “open data.” The Form 700 data now joins lobbyist and campaign finance disclosures filed with the Commission in a unified data platform at data.sfgov.org, as information that can now be searched and downloaded in variety of formats, or accessed via an Application Programming Interface, or “API,” so that the public can use the data programmatically.

“Public disclosure of financial interests by those who make or participate in making government decisions is a fundamental cornerstone of accountable government,” said Ethics Commission Chair Paul Renne.  “The Commission is committed to providing the public with the technology to ensure that disclosure is meaningful and effective.”

Since the mid-1970s, Form 700s have been required of government officials throughout California as a tool to help officials detect and avoid possible conflicts between their personal financial interests and their governmental actions that could affect those interests. By publicly disclosing reportable interests that may be affected by their official duties, disclosure of a reportable interest does not mean a conflict is actually present, but it allows the official to seek advice to avoid participating in governmental decisions that could create a conflict of interest under the law. Transparency about officials’ reportable financial interests also promotes accountability to the public by ensuring governmental decisions are made without regard to an official’s private gain.

San Francisco has required electronic filing of these public statements for over 500 top officials with the Ethics Commission since 2014. As is the case at other California local jurisdictions, online Form 700 datasets and statements posted online redact some fields to address filers’ privacy concern, however un-redacted Form 700 datasets and statements are available from the Ethics Commission upon request.

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The Ethics Commission was established by San Francisco voters in November 1993, and serves the public, City employees and officials, and local candidates through education and enforcement of ethics laws, including public information, reports and advice; campaign disclosure and economic interests filings; lobbyist and campaign consultant registration and reporting; public financing for City campaigns; audits, investigations and enforcement.

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