Torsella Releases Report on Transparency Reform at Treasury Department

Flourtown, PA – Joe Torsella, Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania State Treasurer in 2016, today called for tough new reporting measures that would add a vendor’s political contributions to the state contracts database administered by the Treasury Department. The proposal would let citizens see all information on political giving and state contracts in one place, shining the light of day on connections that are currently hard to find.

“Open and ethical government should have nothing to hide when it comes to the awarding of state contracts,” Torsella said. “It’s an issue where the Commonwealth is falling short, and this commonsense proposal would instead make us a leader on ethics and transparency.

“Pennsylvania currently gets a C- rating from an independent non-profit on state integrity measures. We can and should do much better,” Torsella said. “By adding political contributions to the Treasury Department’s contracts database and redesigning that tool to make it user-friendly, the next Treasurer can be a catalyst for open and transparent record-keeping and full disclosure of all public information related to vendors’ campaign contributions.”

Torsella’s report compares Pennsylvania’s efforts to those in other states, examines the current treatment of contracts and contribution data in the Commonwealth, and proposes a commonsense strategy for combining vendor contributions and contracts data in one easy-to-use online database. Torsella said he would, in the short term, require annual disclosure of political contributions by all vendors holding contracts with the Treasury Department itself and direct Treasury staff to include existing information, held elsewhere in PA government, on political contributions by other vendors into Treasury’s database of state contracts. In the longer term, Torsella said he would work to require all PA vendors to provide information on political giving, as is now required for “non-bid” contracts, and to seamlessly incorporate that information into a more user-friendly database of all state contracts.

About Joe Torsella
Joseph M. Torsella has built a distinguished career as a public servant specializing in making public institutions work better and more efficiently. From 2011 until last year, Torsella served as U.S. Representative to the United Nations for UN Management and Reform. In that role, Ambassador (Ret.) Torsella was the architect and chief public spokesperson for the U.S.-led reform of the $36 billion UN budget system. During his tenure at the UN, Torsella reversed a decade-long trend of unbridled growth in UN budgets (including securing only the second UN budget reduction in 50 years) and brought new transparency to the UN through webcasting of meetings and publication of UN audits.

Before that, Torsella served as the Chairman of the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, leading the Board to pass a landmark accountability measure implementing rigorous statewide requirements for high school graduation.

From 1997 to 2003, Ambassador Torsella was the founding President and CEO of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, a non-profit museum and education center dedicated to explaining and celebrating American ideas and ideals. In that position, he steered the $185 million project from early concept to successful opening. He returned to the Constitution Center for a second term as CEO from 2006 to 2009, persuading President George H. W. Bush to join the Center as its Chairman, and working to establish the Center’s international program, including democracy education work in Afghanistan.

Torsella earned widespread acclaim for his service as a Deputy Mayor of the City of Philadelphia in 1992-1993. In that role, Torsella – serving under Mayor Ed Rendell – led many of the management reforms that closed that city’s $1.2 billion cumulative deficit. He has been active in civic life, including chairing Philadelphia’s bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Ambassador Torsella is a former Rhodes Scholar and a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Carolyn P. Short, a partner at Reed Smith LLP, have four children and live in Flourtown, Pennsylvania.

Torsella, a lifelong Democrat, is the only declared candidate for the 2016 race for Pennsylvania State Treasurer.