Last Tuesday was a big day for Utah's citizens as the state lauched a site that will allow anyone the right to easily view the revenues and expenses of state and eventually local governments.
The site, http://transparent.utah.gov, is a free resource for the public. It is the state of Utah's official public finance web site, which allows citizens the right to Utah's financial records.
The move to open this kind of site came from the state legislature in 2008, a body which has been working toward more public access in not only financial records, but also legal notices and other important documents and records that citizens have a right to see.
State officials say that the site fits in with the legislatures mandated a standard of accountability and transparency. Many feel that it will provide more trust in state government. The website is managed by the Department of Administrative Services, Division of Finance.
A transparency advisory board gives the division direction on running the site. Presently the board has only seven members, but can have up to eight. Present members consist of John Ball, who is the chair of the group. Ball is a legislative fiscal analyst. Also on the board are Myron March from the judicial council, Ken Sumsion, from the house of representatives (District 56, American Fork), Wayne Niederhauser, state senate (District 9, Sandy), John Reidhead, state division of finance, Stephen Fletcher, state department of technology services and John Nixon, from the governors office.
With the opening of the web site the public has a tool that will allow them to seek, view, comprehend and track tax dollars from both the revenue and expense side. The state says this one-stop, easy-to-use resource provides meaningful information about how the state government utilizes public funds and where those funds come from.
As important is the fact that the site is simple to use and easy to understand. The information can be selected in many different ways including by organizations within the state, by the vendor, by the type of fund, by the category of expense or by a combination of factors.
"Government transparency has become a reality in Utah," said Lt. Governor Gary R. Herbert in a press release. "This site allows everyone to see where and how their tax dollars are being spent. This commitment to openness and transparency will strengthen our state management."