Comptroller General Urging Local Governments to put Spending Online

February 11, 2009

Eckstrom says he’s encouraged by response

COLUMBIA, SC – February 11, 2009 – S.C. Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom is working to convince local governments to voluntarily post details of their spending on the Internet so taxpayers can see how their money is being used.

Eckstrom has been working since December to persuade cities, counties and school districts to make spending more transparent. He’s offering to host the information on his on Web site.

He said he’s been encouraged by the response.

So far, none of the local governments we’ve met with have refused, said Eckstrom. The feedback we’ve received has been very positive. He said he expects the first local governments to begin posting spending on the Internet in the next couple of months.

Eckstrom is in the process of creating a central Web site for local government spending.

Last March, the Comptroller General’s Office unveiled the state’s first spending transparency Web site, which contains spending details for more than 80 state agencies. It was one way to make government more transparent, which important if government wants to regain the public trust, Eckstrom said. We’ve been surprised at the public interest in the statewide site, he said. There have been more than 50,000 visits to the site since we put it online.

Eckstrom’s local government-spending transparency initiative is an expansion of that project, he said. People have a right to know how their tax dollars are spent on the local level just as they have a right to know how their tax dollars are spent on the state level, he said.

Eckstrom’s efforts so far have included meeting with individual cities, towns and school districts, as well as appealing to the media for help raising awareness of the issue of spending transparency. I firmly believe that, one day soon, all government spending will be put in the Internet. My office is trying to get that ball rolling, to make it happen sooner rather than later, he said.
Empowering citizens with information about how tax dollars are spent is not just good government, but it’s vital in restoring the confidence that many people have lost in government.