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California Judges' Economic Interests Will Be Made Searchable Online Next Monday

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Tuesday, October 9 2012

Anyone who wants to look up the economic interests of California judges will be able to do so more easily online next Monday thanks to a pilot project underway at the California Fair Political Practices Commission.

The CPPC will be pulling the wraps off of a new project that digitizes the paper-based financial statements that the judges have to submit that state their incomes as well as holdings in investments like stocks, bonds and real-estate. The digitization was the work of Captricity, a San Francisco startup being incubated by Code for America. Some of that data is up on Captricity's Open Data portal, but the CPPC presentation will include more detailed search functionality, said FPPC Chair Ann Ravel. The information currently available at the FPPC's site comes in the form of PDFs.

Captricity uses a combination of human labor and machine-recognition to digitize the information, said Kuang Chen, Captricity's co-founder and CEO. The big hurdle for the company in terms of winning government contracts is going to be navigating through government procurement rules, he said. The current contract with the FPPC falls under the amount where government procurement rules kick in.

"The next step for the FPPC is to get that bigger contract that will have to go through the normal procurement cycles, and honestly, we're bracing ourselves," he said.