Every year, state governments spend hundreds of billions of dollars through contracts for goods and services, subsidies to encourage economic development, and other expenditures. Accountability and public scrutiny are necessary to ensure that the public can trust that state funds are spent as well as possible.
In recent years, state governments across the country have created transparency websites that provide checkbook-level information on government spending – meaning that users can view the payments made to individual companies as well as details about the goods or services purchased or other public benefits obtained. These websites allow residents and watchdog groups to ensure that taxpayers can see how public dollars are spent.
Portsmouth decided to offer an online checkbook as well, which prompted a question from First Ward Councilman Kevin W. Johnson at Monday’s Portsmouth City Council meeting.
“Where is our public checkbook?” Johnson asked City Auditor Trent Williams.
“It’s still coming,” Williams said. “I haven’t made any significant progress yet.”
“What’s the hold-up?” Johnson asked.
“It’s not the top priority that we have right now,” Williams said. “It is going to be done this year.”
“My only concern is that we went through a big thing and made a big public issue of it that we were doing it,” Johnson said. “I look forward to it happening.”
Scioto County has not made a decision as to whether to offer the online checkbook or not. At last check, the county was still considering the possibility of maintaining an online checkbook.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.