ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — No more trips to Zimmerman Library.
The University of New Mexico today is launching the first phase of its online Sunshine Portal, a database containing most employee salaries and university contracts of $20,000 or more.
The information was previously available only in a book at Zimmerman that could be checked out for no more than two hours.
The school is launching an online portal – sunshine.unm.edu – around 3 p.m. today. The site asks for a user name and password, but that won’t be the case when the portal is up and running.
UNM is the first major higher education institution in New Mexico to post its employee salary and financial information online.
The online database will include the names of Main Campus employees and their salaries, as well as all university contracts of $20,000 or more. UNM Hospital employees will be excluded, because they’re not classified as university employees.
The second phase will include budget and expenditure information and a search function, and will likely be ready this summer.
“I’m pleased that the sunshine portal is in place before I leave office, reflecting my commitment to transparency as president,” outgoing UNM president David Schmidly said. Added incoming president Bob Frank: “I am excited to begin my presidency at an institution that values and has taken a leadership role in advancing transparency in higher education.”
UNM announced in November that it would post its financial information online. The decision to publish employee salaries online was a departure for UNM, which previously cited privacy issues as a reason to keep the information offline.
Its decision came after the city of Albuquerque and Albuquerque Public Schools published employees’ salary data, and after pressure from student organizations and the public.
Regent Jamie Koch, who has long advocated for more transparency, hailed posting the new portal.
“I think it’s very important. We’re a public institution and that’s a public document, and I think it will answer many questions on the salaries people are paid at the university, and make it open to everybody,” Koch said. “The taxpayers have a right to know what you’re paying people.”
Gwyneth Doland, executive director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, agreed.
“I am thrilled to hear that the University of New Mexico is putting this important information online because that’s where people are looking for it. Having a salary book on a desk at Zimmerman Library was not good enough,” Doland said. “This is a great step forward for transparency at UNM, and FOG strongly encourages other universities and public bodies to follow suit in being proactive this way.”
Gil Gonzales, chief information officer, headed the project. He said UNM’s information technologies department worked closely with the human resources and finance departments in planning the database, then spent about two months creating it.
Except for a minor consulting contract to the tune of about $2,000, there were no costs associated with creating the website other then employee time because UNM used staffers to do the work, Gonzales said.
He said IT’s biggest goal in developing the site was to make it user-friendly and as simple as possible.
“What we hope to have is a very clean, straightforward (website),” Gonzales said.
Central New Mexico Community College, the state’s largest post-secondary institution, has a list of job descriptions and accompanying salaries, but that does not include employee names. The school has no plans to post that information online. It does, however, post its purchasing orders on its website.
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal