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Wisconsin Finishes Successful Pilot of New Campaign Finance Information System

Date: 
November 19, 2008

MADISON, WI – The Government Accountability Board (G.A.B.) Wednesday announced completion of a pilot test of Wisconsin’s new Campaign Finance Information System (CFIS), under the direction of its Ethics and Accountability Division.

CFIS is an Internet-accessible database and electronic filing tool for providing and viewing information about contributions to political candidates and committees throughout the state.

“The new system will be ready for public use at the beginning of 2009,” said Kevin Kennedy, Director of the Government Accountability Board. “This will be a giant step forward for public information about campaign spending in Wisconsin.”

The CFIS pilot employed 16 volunteer committees to begin use of the new system for reporting election-related receipts and expenses. The new system allows for direct reporting to the Government Accountability Board of campaign finance information which is then posted simultaneously to the Internet for instant public access.

“Development of the new system has gone well,” said Jonathan Becker, Ethics and Accountability Division Administrator. “We expect all candidates and committees registered with the State to use the CFIS to report for the period ending December 31, 2008.”

Becker said a letter will soon be sent to current and new campaign finance registrants informing them of the changeover to CFIS. In addition, Division staff is scheduling training sessions with campaign finance registrants to familiarize them with the new reporting requirements and how the CFIS site works.

Campaign finance reports which cover the end of 2008 – the January Continuing Report – are due on February 2, 2009. At that time, all Wisconsin campaign finance registrants will be required to use the CFIS. The new site is located at http://cfis.wi.gov.

“Early next year, we also intend to demonstrate the new system and its very robust search capabilities to the news media and the public,” Becker said. “Currently, historic campaign finance information is incomplete, but it will be updated before the official introduction of the system.”

Conversion of old campaign finance data into the CFIS likely will take time, Becker said, because registrants previously used a wide variety of software to keep track of records.

Development of the CFIS began in January 2008. In the summer of 2008, a few state registrants (candidates and committees) and members of the news media volunteered to help review the design of the new system to enhance its usability.