10/25/2010 08:55 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

600,000 Local Government Salaries Posted Online

This story comes courtesy of California Watch

By Chase Davis

State Controller John Chiang today made good on a promise to post an online database of salary and benefits for hundreds of thousands of local government employees around the state.

So far, the database includes salary and benefit information for nearly 600,000 employees in more than 400 cities and about 40 counties statewide. The famous six-figure Bell salaries are included, although data from the city of Vernon, whose employees' big paydays are also under investigation, has not yet been collected.

Dozens of cities and counties have not yet filed reports and could face penalties for not doing so.

"The absence of transparency and accountability invites corruption, self-dealing and the abuse of public funds," Chiang said in a press release. "This website will help taxpayers scrutinize local government compensation and force public officials to account for how they spend public resources."

Take it from public records nerds like us: Compiling such a huge database of local employee compensation in a consistent format in just under three months is an impressive feat. And it will save a lot of journalists - not to mention members of the public - the trouble of doing it themselves.

But that said, the data isn't perfect. The Orange County Register pointed out a few issues - not the least of which is that salaries are listed by position, not name. That might not sound significant, but it makes it a lot harder to quickly find out whether the mayor's son is getting paid six figures to clean pools for the local parks department.

We'll be spending some time looking through the database in the coming weeks. Feel free to do the same and let us know what you find.