Wisconsin has made big strides in letting taxpayers see where their money is being spent. Bruce Speight with Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group said that’s due to the new OpenBook Wisconsin website, a key initiative by the administration of Governor Scott Walker.
“Wisconsin earns an A- in spending transparency this year,” Speight said. “With the launch of OpenBook Wisconsin in late 2013, Wisconsin saw the largest improvement of any state in the country.” Wisconsin received 90 out of 100 possible points in the state rankings this year. “After being considered a failing state only one year ago, Wisconsin has taken a huge step forward.”
“It was a major undertaking to be able to pull that data from the existing systems that we had,” said Chris Schoenherr, Deputy Secretary of the Department on Administration. “What we have now, no governor had that kind of access before.”
Officials from Wisconsin and 45 other states provided the researchers with feedback on their initial evaluation of state transparency websites. Based on an inventory of the content and ease-of-use of states’ transparency websites, the Following the Money 2014 report assigns each state a grade of “A” to “F.” The leading states with the most comprehensive transparency websites are Indiana, Florida, Oregon, Florida, Texas, Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
The state’s “online checkbook” is updated every two weeks, and even though the site is new, DOA has posted expenditure information back to fiscal year 2008.