February 5, 2020
Today, the San Francisco Ethics Commission made electronically filed Statement of Economic Interests, or “Form 700”, financial disclosures of over 600 City officials from over a six-year period fully available as open data on the City’s DataSF data portal. The Commission’s completion of this open data milestone demonstrates its commitment to prioritizing projects that provide the public with disclosed information in the most accessible formats possible. Through the open datasets, the public can search and explore 20,000 reported financial interests disclosed electronically in over 3,600 filings by elected officials, board and commission members, and department heads between 2014 and 2019. Ensuring broad public access to economic interests reported by City officials expands public awareness and supports accountability to the public in government decision making.
The Commission continues to provide access to the Form 700 filings through a searchable database on its website at sfethics.org/sei. These new datasets at DataSF offer a more powerful tool to conduct broader research across time periods and tailor searches with greater precision across all filings. The public can search reportable economic interests including income, investments, business entities, non-governmental salaries, real estate, gifts, and travel payments from third parties. In addition, the data is accessible via an Application Programming Interface (API), which enables software applications to conduct more advanced research. With the support of the DataSF team, the new Form 700 datasets are updated daily with the latest disclosure filings.
Public officials at all levels of government in California are required to file annual Statements of Economic Interests to disclose their personal financial interests. The next annual disclosure deadline is April 1, 2020, which will cover interests in calendar year 2019. The San Francisco Ethics Commission has required elected officials, members of City boards and commissions, and department heads to file these public disclosure statements electronically since 2014. A new regulation adopted by the Ethics Commission in January 2020 will require online filing for more than 3,000 other designated filers throughout City government beginning in January 2021.
The regular public disclosure of reportable economic interests is a tool to help government officials detect and avoid possible conflicts between their personal financial interests and their governmental actions that could affect those interests. The public disclosure of a reportable interest does not mean a conflict is present, but it allows the official to seek advice and avoid participating in any governmental actions or decisions that could create a conflict of interest under the law. Transparency about officials’ reportable financial interests promotes accountability to the public by ensuring governmental decisions are made without regard to an official’s private gain.
As is the case in other California local jurisdictions, Form 700 datasets and statements posted online redact some fields to address filers’ privacy concern. Unredacted Form 700 datasets and statements are available from the Ethics Commission upon request.
For more information about the Ethics Commission and its work, we invite you to visit us at https://sfethics.org/.
The Ethics Commission serves the public, City employees and officials and candidates for public office through education and enforcement of ethics laws, including through independent investigations and the assessment of fines through its administrative enforcement authority. Established by San Francisco voters in 1993, the Commission is responsible for the impartial administration and enforcement of the city’s campaign finance, lobbying, and governmental ethics laws, including the City’s public campaign financing program. The Commission’s duties include public disclosure, education and training, advice giving, legislative development, audits, investigations and administrative enforcement.