Letter from the editor | Introducing Ledger

By Jon Moss, Editor-in-Chief

Across its many different bank accounts, Pitt brings in and spends a lot of money.

Like, a lot a lot.

For the first time, any expense from the $2-billion University for goods or services worth $1,000 or more is now easily searchable by community members. This is thanks to Ledger, a new tool from The Pitt News which I created.

Using Ledger, you can search University transactions by year, purchaser, vendor and purchase type. For example, we have written extensively about the University’s millions in payments to Philadelphia-based “union avoidance” firm Ballard Spahr. We were the first to report on these transactions — which ultimately earned us an award from a national journalism competition — and have used Ledger to track these transactions.

The data behind Ledger is available due to Article XX-D, Section 2004-D of Pennsylvania’s Public School Code of 1949 — I know, it just rolls right off the tongue. My favorite section of Pennsylvania law says state-related universities like Pitt “shall submit in electronic format a report of the information” requested, including the goods and services contracts, by the end of the calendar year. The data is then provided to the state government in Harrisburg, from which every year we obtain one coveted Excel file in particular — Contracts.xlsx — before it is loaded into Ledger. You can access the raw transaction data in CSV format here.

We hope that you enjoy using Ledger.

All my best,

Jon Moss


[email protected]