June 22, 2018

Comptroller pressures quasi-publics over fiscal transparency

PHOTO | Matt Pilon
PHOTO | Matt Pilon
State Comptroller Kevin Lembo in Bushnell Park.

State Comptroller Kevin Lembo continues to pressure Connecticut's quasi-public agencies to provide checkbook-level financial data to his office for sharing with the public on its OpenConnecticut website.

Users of the site can view payroll, budget, revenue and other data for agencies.

After reaching data sharing agreements last year with most of the 13 quasi-publics, Lembo this week named those that still haven't provided data.

They include Access Health CT (which only submitted partial information to Lembo's office), the Connecticut Lottery Corp. and Connecticut Housing Finance Authority.

The lottery said Friday that its chief financial officer, Paul Granato, has reached out to Lembo to tell him the lottery plans to comply with his request.

Lottery spokeswoman Linda Tarnowski said the lottery had always intended to participate.

"The only reason there was a delay was due to a financial software conversion," Tarnowski said.

Meanwhile, an Access Health spokeswoman said the agency is reviewing Lembo's request. CHFA spokeswoman Lisa Kidder said her agency will likely participate in Lembo's portal, but has to discuss the matter with Lembo's office further.

"Due to the nature of CHFA's business, we already provide a significant amount of external reporting to various state entities and federal regulatory agencies, as well as publishing reports on the CHFA website," Kidder said.

In addition, Lembo is also calling on the Connecticut Port Authority to share its data. He notes that the authority was created by a 2014 law, so Lembo said it was premature to ask them to participate previously.

Lembo said he sent letters to all four entities this week.

"Quasi-public agencies were formed to meet a public purpose and many rely in some way on state funds or resources to accomplish their missions," Lembo said in a statement. "The operations of quasi-public institutions should therefore be as transparent as possible. The vast majority of Connecticut's quasi-public agencies have recognized the importance of transparency and the confidence that it provides to the public. I am hopeful that all quasi-public agencies will embrace that view."

While the quasi-publics aren't legally required to share such data with Lembo, the comptroller says it's important for Connecticut to maintain its national leadership ranking on open government, transparency and accountability.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include responses and comment from quasi-publics.

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