Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel is pushing for greater government transparency, and has launched OhioCheckbook.com to provide an information source for this information. The site has been online since last year, but now the treasurer is making a renewed push to get local governments to put more data on the site.
Treasurer Mandel sent a letter to 18,062 local government and school officials representing 3,962 local governments throughout the state calling on them to place their checkbook level data on OhioCheckbook.com and extending an invitation to partner with his office at no cost to local governments. These local governments include cities, counties, townships, schools, library districts and other special districts.
OhioCheckbook.com was launched on December 2, 2014, marking the first time in Ohio history when citizens could actually see every expenditure in state government. The effort is similar to “checkbook” sites elsewhere in the US, New York City has one as does a handful of larger municipalities.
OhioCheckbook.com displays more than $408 billion in spending over the past seven years, including more than 112 million transactions.
So far the site has been well received. Last month, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) released their annual “Following the Money 2015” report and Ohio took the number one transparency ranking in the country for providing online access to government spending data. In previous rankings the state was hovering around 46th.
Ohio has also partnered with OpenGov to provide a more user-friendly experience with the data.
Mandel said he hopes to create an “army of citizen watchdogs,” at an event held in Ohio to announce the push for more data.