Ohio moves for unprecedented financial transparency
- By Mark Pomerleau
- Apr 17, 2015
Ohio is going to unprecedented levels with its new open government initiative. In a partnership with OpenGov, the state aspires to make all financial information available to the public – from all localities. The data will provide citizens with “checkbook-level spending data to every city, town, school district, and other local governing entity in the state – 3,962 of them in total,” OpenGov said in its announcement.
Armed with this data, citizens can track their tax dollars like never before. While Ohio had already released certain financial information on its open data platform – OhioCheckbook.com – the new initiative seeks to make available financial data from every level of local government.
“Ohioans have a right to see how their tax money is being spent at every level of government,” Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel stated. “I am calling on cities, counties, townships and schools to open the books and post their checkbooks on OhioCheckbook.com. My vision is to create an army of citizen watchdogs who are empowered to hold public officials accountable.”
Other cities and states such as Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, Miami, Tennessee have opened their books to the public in the name of financial transparency.
The recent move by Ohio makes the state a model for open government, OpenGov said. The state not only received the top spot in last month’s U.S. Public Interest Research Group “Following the Money” report, which ranks state transparency websites, but also earned a perfect 100 -- the highest score in the U.S. PIRG transparency ranking history.
Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.