It's here at last: the first government ethics app (at least
that I know of). According to a
Capitol Alert post on the Sacramento Bee website yesterday
California's Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has a
free smartphone app called Gift Tracker
(first for Android,
and soon for Apple) to let officials (state only, it appears) record in real time
gifts received from restricted sources.
FPPC Enforcement Division Chief Gary Winuk is quoted as saying, "If
you're at an event, if you're at a meeting, if you're giving a
speech, if you're in a reception, you can just log in what the gift
is." Then you export the log into a spreadsheet to attach to your annual disclosure statement (no, it doesn't appear to be a spreadsheet searchable by the public).
The app also allows officials to contact gift sources via text message, e-mail, or telephone, to let them know what they plan to report. Thus, an official can contact a reception host to let it know what she ate and drank at the reception. This way the official and the reception host are on the same page, even if no one will see the page for quite some time.
The app even helps you keep track of your aggregate gifts from a
particular source, so you won't go over the $440 annual limit. The
question is, can it tell you the fair market value of a sushi sampler, a glass of the best champagne, or the drafting of a bill?