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Gov. Jerry Brown has shut down the government transparency website created by his predecessor, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, as a repository for financial disclosure statements and other records.

A note on the website, www.transparency.ca.gov, says information previously available on the site can be found on other state websites and furnishes the links. But open government advocates have objected to the move, saying it will make it more difficult for citizens to track spending.

Many of the documents -- including information about state contracts, audits and salaries -- can be found on other sites. But the transparency site, created in 2009 and shut down Tuesday, also included travel expense claims submitted by senior agency officials and employees of the governor's office.

Brown's office said this afternoon that travel records can be requested under California's open records act. Elizabeth Ashford, a spokeswoman for the Democratic governor, cited the time and cost of copying and uploading those documents.

Ashford said the website was created in response to concerns about travel and spending during Schwarzenegger's administration. Staff and travel costs under Brown are far lower, she said.

Phillip Ung, a lobbyist for the government watchdog group Common Cause, said there is a "large public interest in having a centralized disclosure, which is exactly what the transparency website was."

When he saw a note on the website this afternoon announcing its discontinuation, Ung said, "This is the worst."

The note on the website says Brown "is committed to keeping state government open and transparent while eliminating inefficiencies and unnecessary costs."

Brown last month rescinded the executive order under which his Republican predecessor created the website. The action accompanied Brown's veto of labor-backed legislation that would have required the state to post contracts of $5,000 or more on the site.

Brown said in a message accompanying his veto of the bill, by Assemblyman Mike Eng, D-Monterey Park, that information about state contracts could already be found on a Department of General Services website.

"While governmental transparency is laudable, there's no need for a new law," Brown wrote.



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