Next Phase of Ohio's Online Checkbook Brings Local Governments On Board

Leah Barkoukis
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Posted: Sep 27, 2015 9:27 AM
Next Phase of Ohio's Online Checkbook Brings Local Governments On Board

Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel is committed to making The Buckeye State the most transparent in the nation when it comes to the state’s finances. And indeed, through the state’s new online checkbook, which allows citizens, journalists, and lawmakers alike to see how money is being spent, Mandel brought Ohio from 46th place in the U.S. Public Interest Research Group’s 2014 annual ranking of states’ transparency spending to the top of the list this year.

But he wasn’t content to stop with just state-level spending. In an interview with Townhall earlier this year, Mandel said he was “gonna start showing up at city council meetings, school board meetings, and asking these local governments to partner with us … and if they refuse to partner with us, we’re gonna ask ‘Why? What do they have to hide?’”

Mandel made good on his promise.

In April, [Mandel] made an unprecedented statewide commitment to financial transparency – to bring checkbook-level spending detail to all 3,962 local government entities in the state through OhioCheckbook.com, powered by OpenGov.

Since that announcement, OpenGov has been working with local governments across Ohio to transform their financial data – often confined in static spreadsheets – into an intuitive, interactive platform. Today,114 Ohio governments have joined the OhioCheckbook.com platform including 40 cities and villages32 townships8 counties32 school districts and 2 special districts. In total, these governments have put more than6 million individual checkbook entriesonline representing $14.2 billion in spending. Hundreds more government entities will join them in the coming months.

With a few clicks, users can answer questions such as “how much money has the government spent in total on street lights?” or “which departments spent the most money last month?” With this initiative, Ohio is truly setting the gold standard for transparency in government spending, making millions of local government checkbook entries available to citizens in an easy-to-use digital format.

“There’s a lot of waste in our state government and government entities throughout the country and what we’re trying to do with this online checkbook is expose that waste and put an end to it by virtue of having all this information online,” Mandel told Townhall in February.