I was a little surprised that your "Citizens Agenda: Taxes and Budget" section called for "a smart, independent, citizen-friendly, results-oriented fiscal watchdog for Philadelphia like the federal GAO or New York City's Independent Budget Office." Such an organization is already in place in the city: the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA).

Since 1992, PICA has provided guidance to foster sound financial practices and oversight to ensure responsible budget projections. PICA also provides periodic reports on issues that impact the city's finances, and has produced the "Citizens Guide to the Budget," an oft-cited, easy to understand budget resource available on the PICA Web site (

» READ MORE: www.picapa.org

).

PICA is considered one of the most apolitical resources for understanding issues that impact the city's fiscal health and has been used for expert testimony and background information by City Council, the state legislature, community and advocacy groups, citizens and the news media.

Perhaps the greatest irony was that a majority of the concerns mentioned in the Citizens Agenda are ones that have been raised repeatedly by PICA. Many of the statistics cited in this and accompanying articles are taken directly from PICA's work.

PICA is looking forward to working with Mayor-elect Michael Nutter in continuation of its mission to provide oversight and guidance to the city of Philadelphia to foster sound financial and budgetary practices in a smart, independent and citizen-friendly manner.

James Eisenhower

Chair

PICA Board