THERE was a bit of fuss at Camden Town Hall last year as it was mulled over whether we should all know the size of the salaries paid to its publicly-paid chief officers. Rough salary brackets meant we could only guess at what the top bods took home. Whether or not you think the six figure sums are justified wasn’t really the point. Tax-payers simply deserved to know where the money had gone, so they could at least decide all of that for themselves. A few crumbs about the wage bill on the upper rungs now appear on the council’s website, along with details of all payments made costing more than £500. (That’s helpful, for example when you are trying to find out whether the council buy services from teetering care home provider Southern Cross or not).
But this new attempt at local authority transparency is nothing in comparison to what’s happening over in the United States. Yesterday, the City of Chicago (not alone in doing so) published the names, job titles and salaries of all the people who work for it on a website accessible to anybody.
Everybody whose wage is paid for by the public is on there.
It dwarfs the demands made on our councils by the king armchair auditor himself, our pal Pickles at the DCLG. You just couldn’t see it happening over here – and you know what’s possible? – it might all be a bit too much detail even for some of the loudest FoI campaigners in the UK. Interesting idea, though. What do you think?