Salary postings latest effort to promote government transparency

New Mexico's Rio Grande Foundation, which promotes individual liberty and government transparency, has published payroll data for New Mexico cities and counties.

Here's a portion of its press release announcing the data:

In an effort to improve government transparency throughout New Mexico, the Rio Grande Foundation has requested and published payroll data.

Said Rio Grande Foundation President Paul Gessing of his organization's role in releasing the data: "Taxpayers are the ultimate 'bosses' of government workers and should have access to this data. Government is the only 'business' in which the boss often doesn't have access to the company payroll."

Under New Mexico law, employee salary data is already public information, available on request from the county or city government. Now, thanks to legislation passed during the 2011 legislative session, this and other data must be made available in a format preferred by the requester.

Unfortunately, being required to comply with a request and actual compliance are not the same thing. All counties complied with our requests, but several cities including Bernalillo, Las Vegas, and Roswell failed to comply.

Responding to the most likely critique of having this information online, Gessing said, "Having salary information online is not a privacy threat. The Rio Grande Foundation has had similar information posted for cities, counties, and institutions of higher education online for years and we have not heard any specific complaints."

"We at the Rio Grande Foundation believe strongly that transparency and openness are keys to achieving a more limited, fiscally responsible government. Information on who is hired to do what and how much they are being paid is information that must be available and accessible to the public," said Gessing.

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