Ohio is leading the way with a Silicon Valley–like way to track each dollar spent by that state’s government. Since December 2014, Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel has made every check written by the state available digitally on OhioCheckbook.com. This means that all state expenses, both large and small, are available online in an easily searchable database that includes checks written as far back as 2008.
Huge check to a major government contractor? It’s on there. Relatively small check to reimburse a state employee for travel expenses? It’s on there too. Information can be sorted and exported easily. There are even functions that allow you to contact the government official in charge of the agency that issued the check or share your findings on social media.
This site gives Ohioans unprecedented access to public information about how their government spends their tax dollars. And Mandel is working on expanding the database to include information from local governments as well.
Seriously, go there right now and click around. Neat, huh?
Missourians deserve the same level of government transparency. Imagine if we could search for and view each check paid from state funds, contact the responsible officeholders for inquiries about the purpose of each check, and then email accountable officials or share findings on social media—all from one website.
A tool like this would allow citizens and journalists to better understand how their government spends. And it would give government actors a powerful incentive to think twice about how they spent taxpayer money.