Since I was appointed by Governor Kelly last January, we’ve undertaken a number of reforms based on four key priorities for the Department of Commerce. One of those four critical areas has been an effort to make clear what we do, how we do it and why we do it. The people of our state, our business community and the Legislature deserve nothing less.
Increasing transparency is a critical step towards improving our accountability to the people of Kansas, especially when it comes to the use of public dollars. Our goal is to help Kansans and the Legislature understand more about economic development in general, in terms of how it works and what the impacts are of the programs we administer.
This week, we launched an online database that tracks information on Commerce programs and impacts. Kansans deserve to know how their public dollars are being spent, and our agency is committed to working with the Legislature to increase transparency and provide information on outcomes.
The Incentive Transparency Database provides visibility into how the Department of Commerce administers incentive programs and helps generate new investment and create new jobs in Kansas. Today’s version is just the start; in the coming months and years, we will be working to provide more data and focused effort on assessing the return on investment of our state’s tools for growth.
Users can search approved projects by company or entity name, county and program, as well as access key project details such as award justification and award amount. So far, data for 11 programs have been included in the database for fiscal year 2020 (beginning July 1, 2019); subsequent years’ data will be added to the database as it becomes available.
All of the information contained in the database is already public information and can already be accessed via Kansas Open Records Act (KORA) requests. The database simply makes the information more readily available to constituents interested in understanding more about how incentive dollars are utilized in our state.
The database is an outgrowth of HB2223, which was shepherded by Rep. Kristey Williams and passed unanimously before Governor Kelly signed it into law.
In addition to transparency, we’ve been working to increase access to many Commerce programs through online applications and digital forms. You’ll be hearing more about that in the next couple of weeks.
Economic development and transparency can and must work hand-in-hand. We welcome further conversations with the Legislature and the public on how we can increase transparency around our state’s incentives and tools to grow Kansas.
Ad Astra Per Aspera,