What Is Project Sunlight?
Project Sunlight, a component of the Public Integrity Reform Act of 2011 (Ch. 399, Part A, §4, L. 2011), is an online database that provides the public with an opportunity to see the individuals and entities that are interacting with government decision-makers at certain State entities.
Effective January 1, 2013, State agencies are required to report “appearances” by individuals or firms who “appear” before State decision-makers, or persons who advise decision-makers, to an electronic database maintained by the Office of General Services (OGS). The Project Sunlight database, hosted by OGS, aggregates the inputted data and makes it available to the public for viewing on the Project Sunlight website.
What Must Be Reported Under Project Sunlight?
State agencies are required to report in-person and video “appearances,” by individuals or firms who “appear” before decision-makers of the State agency, or those with influence over the decision-makers, involving the following five (5) areas:
- Procurements over $25,000
- Regulatory matters
- Adoption/repeal of a regulation
- Judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings
- Rate making
What Is Not Included for Purposes of Project Sunlight Reporting?
A number of exceptions to reporting exist, including:
- Written communications
- Telephonic conversations
- “Appearances” by other government entities, the media, elected officials, and minors
- Ministerial interactions, such as communications to schedule a meeting, requests for information or collecting/dispensing factual information
- Open meetings
- Interactions made confidential by law
- Emergency procurements
- “Appearances” regarding legislation or the budget
Additionally, exceptions to reporting specific to the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) include:
- “Appearances” with students, applicants, borrowers, and/or their representatives concerning determinations about:
- grant, scholarship, and loan forgiveness program eligibility; or
- false certification, fraud, closed school, treasury offset, State tax offset, reasonable and affordable payments, deferments, discharges, forbearances, modified payment plans, compromises, and settlements relating to HESC-guaranteed federal student loans and/or New York Higher Education Loan Program (NYHELPs) loans
- “Appearances” for Administrative Wage Garnishment (AWG) hearings
- “Appearances” for hearings involving employee disciplinary matters
- “Appearances” for rate making
HESC is complying with Project Sunlight by reporting qualifying appearances into the publically searchable database at: www.projectsunlight.ny.gov.