Governor Bill Ritter and Treasurer Cary Kennedy quietly launched the Transparency Online Project(TOPS). COST doesn’t believe that TOPS is what State Rep BJ Nikkel and transparency activists envisioned with HB 1288 the Colorado Taxpayer Transparency Act. According to a press release from the Governor’s office:
TOP sets a new standard for accountability, responsibility and transparency in state government, Gov. Ritter said. Taxpayers now have a convenient and modern tool to see exactly where their money is going and how it’s being spent.
If TOPS is the “new standard” then Ritter and Kennedy set the bar fairly low. Problem is taxpayers can’t see ”exactly where their money is going” because the Web site doesn’t provide details. Under “Expenditure Type Search” visitors find that the “drill down path” provides a summary for each agency, department and fund. In some cases a name is attached to aggregated spending, particularly in the case of travel expenses, but no context is provided.
No wonder the Governor fought so hard against transparency, he doesn’t really seem to understand it. To help the Governor, COST has taken the liberty of providing a few examples on the local and state level: Transparent Jeffco, Open Book Fort Collins, Missouri Accountability Portal (MAP) and KanView. It can be done!
COST believes now is a good time to remind taxpayers of our motto: No taxation without information!