OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. 22, 2010) — Legislation expanding Oklahoma’s taxpayer transparency website, Openbooks.ok.gov, to include additional details regarding state expenditures unanimously passed House committee today.
House Bill 3422, by Rep. Ken Miller, would make state expenditures more transparent and available online, allowing the public to see exactly where their tax dollars are being spent.
"We have an obligation to the Oklahoma taxpayers to be as open as we can be when it comes to the expenditure of state funds," said House Speaker Chris Benge, R-Tulsa. "As more of our financial processes are moved online, our state will become more efficient and reporting expenditures will get easier."
- requires that all purchases made with state funds be disclosed on the online database, regardless of the amount of the expenditure
- requires that each individual expenditure be listed separately instead of being lumped together as one purchase (for example, instead of listing several purchases under ‘office expenses’, detail would be required for each item purchased)
- requires that the information provided on the website be searchable, either by using the name of the recipient, the entity making the purchase, or the date of the expenditure
- requires that the data provided on the website be in a format in which users can easily export it into a separate document
- requires that the Office of State Finance create an online archive database where users can access data older than 18 months
"Over the past few years we’ve put in place tools that make our state government more accountable to the taxpayers who fund its operation," said Miller, R-Edmond. "Open Books 2.0 will continue our progress by revealing unprecedented detail about how and where taxpayer funds are spent."
The legislation is part of ongoing House Republican efforts to modernize state government in order to improve efficiency, all while further opening the process up to the public.
"By providing direct access to the spending data the state will allow the citizens to analyze spending data without it being filtered through the prism of government controls," said Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie and chairman of the House Government Modernization Committee. "This is a big step forward towards true transparency and accountability."
The bill passed the House Government Modernization Committee with a unanimous vote.
House Bill 2310, which requires the Office of State Finance to develop a plan to eventually consolidate the financial services of all state agencies, also passed committee today.
Currently, most state agencies have their own department and/or employees to handle services related to payroll, purchasing, and accounts payable and receivable. However, the Office of State Finance already provides these services, and the office typically has a higher level of expertise and staff knowledge as the agency’s specific function is to administer the state’s financial processes.
The changes were suggested during a 2009 interim study, which examined the feasibility of moving to a shared services plan. During that study, OSF explained that there are 100 individual steps to make sure payroll is processed correctly. At the time, OSF projected more than $2 million in potential savings if all state agencies used centralized payroll.
The bill passed committee unanimously.
Both bills will next be considered by the full House.
To view video of Rep. Murphey discussing his government modernization legislation, go to: http://www.okhouse.tv/ViewVideo.aspx?VideoID=233