OPEN GOVERNMENT -- All California state contracts online?  Maybe—hard to tell.  And impossible to tell what the contracts are for.  And that's just one drawback of the State of California's new Reporting Transparency in Government website—a facility that must be charitably considered a work in progress.

Not only can you not determine what any of the hundreds or possibly thousands of listed contracts is for, you can't use sorting or search tools to scale them from largest to smallest, to determine which contractor gets the most business, etc.

The other components of the Transparency site are external audits of state agencies and programs, officials' claims for reimbursement of travel expenses, and their Form 700 statements of economic interests. All these are simply PDFs that can be located only by agency and pulled up one by one—no name searches by officials involved.

It's a start—far better than having to put in a public records access request when you're not even sure that a record exists.  If you already have some idea of what you're looking for and where it might be found, the site can be very helpful.  But it could use some wizards.

Meanwhile if nothing else, the lists could be useful raw material to assign journalism students to wade through, either to find interesting story starters or at least to get used to tracing the footprints of bureaucracy.