What is Governor Ritter so afraid of? Apparently showing Colorado taxpayers how their money is spent. Amy Oliver, Director of the Colorado Spending Transparency Project, had this to say in a press release:
April 2, firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact: Amy Oliver, Director, Colorado Spending Transparency Project
Ritter’s Transparency Executive Order Falls Short
Detailed State Spending Can Be Omitted from “Transparency Online Project”
GOLDEN—Colorado’s leading advocates of open government say the governor’s call for an online database of state finances is a commendable gesture but falls short on the details.
Today Governor Bill Ritter issued an executive order to establish the “Colorado Transparency Online Project”—described as “a statewide searchable database system of the state’s revenues and disbursements.” However, a provision in the order indicates the system “may provide access to aggregated information” rather than “individual transaction” details, if state officials deem those details might hinder accountability.
“That’s a loophole big enough to hide much of the government spending Coloradans demand to see,” said Amy Oliver, director of the Independence Institute’s Colorado Transparency Project (COST). “Put the details in front of taxpayers, and let them decide.”
The state’s General Assembly meanwhile is considering House Bill 1288, the Colorado Taxpayer Transparency Act, which would create a detailed online searchable database of state government financial transactions. State Representative BJ Nikkel’s bill enjoys significant bi-partisan support and would provide more detail.
“Coloradans would be better off with transparency in statute, something that could only be changed by an open process that includes citizen input,” Oliver said. “As for the governor’s order we’ll have to wait and see, but this really isn’t a promising start.”
Other states have generated real efficiencies through spending transparency. For example, Texas’ “Where the Money Goes” website with detailed information down to the pen and pencil level has allowed the state to realize nearly $4 million in cost savings.
The Independence Institute is a non-partisan, non-profit public policy research organization based in Golden, Colo.
Other transparency advocates have weighed in as well. Josh Culling from the National Taxpayers Union called Ritter’s attempt at transparency “pointless.”
Americans for Tax Reform chimed in as well calling the executive order a “toothless tiger.”