The city of Albuquerque is adding the names of its 6,000 employees, their pay rate and their year-to-date earnings to an online database that tracks the taxpayer-funded salaries.
The information, announced Wednesday by Mayor Richard Berry, will expand the city’s “ABQ View” website, which previously included names and salary information only for appointed positions and the city’s 250 highest paid workers.
Available to the general public today, the ABQ View update makes Albuquerque the first government body in New Mexico to make public a full listing of employee names and salaries online, said Sarah Welsh, executive director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government.
“We work for the citizens of Albuquerque,” Berry said in a telephone interview with the Journal on Wednesday. “If we’re going to be a transparent and accountable government, we shouldn’t be ashamed or afraid to put out information that already is public information.”
The city launched its public information website last August, but chose to withhold most employee salary information after some workers expressed concern about privacy and potential misuse of the data.
But no privacy problems have arisen, the mayor said.
“We had listened to their (privacy) concerns a great deal at the very beginning of the transparency website,” Berry said. “I feel strongly that that argument should be off the table.”
State government has published employee salary information by job title, but withholds names of most rank-and-file employees. The University of New Mexico publishes a roundup of all employees by name and salary in a single copy available only at Zimmerman Library. The university has pushed back against requests to make the information available online.
Welsh said Albuquerque’s Web information site, which includes options to search for individual employees or download complete databases, is an example that should be followed by other New Mexico municipalities.
“We’ve seen problems with nepotism in hiring, with discrimination in hiring,” Welsh said. “And I think sometimes seeing the names really forces people … to really look at who’s working there, how much they’re being paid and the positions they hold.”
The mayor also pointed out that in addition to base salaries, the site would list year-to-date pay, which would reflect overtime.
Berry said it’s important for Albuquerque to be on the “forefront” of government transparency.
“The fact of the matter is it is public information. Anybody in the world that wanted that information could simply call the city,” he said. “Why do we want to do anything less than be on the leading edge of making it available and searchable?”
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal