SB 978 Machine Readable Data


SB-978 will enhance how California history is recorded and how everyday Californians access critical information that decides how their tax dollars are spent.


California is proud to promote some of the highest standards for public data access and machine readable data. Tax related documentation, criminal justice data, and lobbying data are all required to be machine readable. The term “machine readable” is found in several different sections of California law in requirements on both private businesses and government agencies. The term “machine readable” appears in the definition for “open data” as part of California Government Code section 12815, subdivision (d); a section which created the office of Data and Innovation (ODI).

Since 2005, the state has invested in developing and implementing the Financial Information System of California (FI$Cal). The project has morphed into a $960 million beast that combines the State’s accounting, cash management, procurement, and other operations including the production of financial statements into a single modernized system. FI$Cal’s purpose was to improve the State’s fiscal controls. Instead FI$Cal has been lambasted repeatedly by the state auditor and haphazard implementation has led to several consecutive years of delayed financial reports. While FI$Cal is a management system, the California Department of Technology (CDT) has been the chief operator in charge of Information Technology (IT) for the State. With approximately 1,000 employees and a budget of nearly $1 billion CDT has received scalding reviews by the State Auditor for critical IT failures and ballooning project costs. 

Currently, at critical junctions for budget oversight the public and interest groups have to either wade through expansive data or rely wholly on the summaries and spin from the administration. The sheer mass of the now approximately $300 billion California Budget is difficult to follow for experts, much less the common individual. Adding an extra layer of data transparency is not only necessary, it is also necessary within the infrastructure created for State expenditure transparency.


SB-978 will move California forward towards greater transparency in the budget process and historical documentation by requiring the Governor’s Budget and Documents at the State Library be machine readable. 

Click HERE to read the bill language
Click HERE to read the press release