Having trouble keeping track of all those concert tickets, reception tabs and bottles of wine you have to report as gifts as a California elected official or legislative staffer?
There's an app for that.
The Fair Political Practices Commission is set to unveil a new smartphone app to let officials record receipts of reportable gifts from special interests in real time. The log could be exported when the time comes to file an annual statement of economic interest form detailing all the gifts from the past year, a function FPPC officials hope will make complying with the disclosure rules easier.
"If you're at an event, if you're at a meeting, if you're giving a speech, if you're in a reception, you can just log in what the gift is," FPPC Enforcement Division Chief Gary Winuk said.
The Gift Tracker app was built by a staff member who joined the agency after participating in a "hackathon" event promoting open government data. The app allows the user to enter information about the gift and the giver and track how close they are to hitting the $440 annual limit on gifts from that specific source.
While the logs won't be available for public review immediately, Winuk said the app goes a long way in reaching the commission's goal of using technology to increase disclosure and make it easier for people to meet requirements of the state Political Reform Act.
The app is initially available only for Google devices, but Winuk said the FPPC is hoping to have an iPhone and iPad version approved and available through the Apple store soon.
FPPC Chair Ann Ravel called the app "a win for everyone" in a statement.
"It is important that it is not too burdensome to comply with our rules, so that people are encouraged to participate in government," she said. "And, it is important for the public that the information disclosed to them is accurate."
Editor's note: This post was updated at 5:27 to include a quote from Ravel.
PHOTO CREDIT: Screenshot of the new FPPC app. Courtesy of the FPPC.