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City of Chicago Releases City Contracts Going Back to 1993

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, August 4 2011

The city of Chicago has released records of nearly 90,000 city contracts going back to 1993 in machine-readable, downloadable format, the Chicago Sun-Times reported yesterday.

Since coming into office, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been incrementally executing a transition plan that involved releasing online an unprecedented amount of data about the Windy City's inner workings. Sun-Times' city hall reporter, Fran Spielman, is understandably ebullient about how much easier will be to cover government the right way — with stacks of official documents to back up reporting:

The mayor’s office has literally released 170 “datasets” — everything from the names and salaries of city employees to information on lobbyists, crime, abandoned buildings and the list of contractors barred from doing business with the city.

Until now, contract information was available on the Internet, but it was not easy to find, search or download. You had to make a specific search on the Department of Procurement Services website or file a Freedom of Information request. Contracts were distributed by the city through e-mail or PDF.

Spielman is so excited that "literally" appears again in the article to describe how Chicago will "blaze a national trail" with transparency.