Skip to comments.Budget database would help residents track funds, accountability
Posted on 01/07/2007 8:32:52 AM PST by truth49
With Gov. Chris Gregoire introducing her 2007-09 spending plan for the state last month, taxpayers may be wondering what $70 billion in government spending will buy. For the curious, youll need to read through the hundred-plus pages of the state operating, capital and transportation budgets while wading through numerous state Web sites and publications to learn the details. There is, however, an easier, more transparent way: a searchable budget database modeled after a recent federal reform.
Recognizing the need to be accountable to Americans for the nearly $1 trillion in discretionary spending the federal government allocates each year, President Bush signed into law last year the bipartisan Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act. This law creates an easy-to-use Google-type Web site that allows citizens to track the recipients of all federal funds.
According to the president, this searchable budget database will enable citizens to call up the name and location of entities receiving federal funds and will provide them with the purpose of the funding, the amount of the money provided, the agency providing the funding and other relevant information.
The need for fiscal responsibility and transparency is not limited to politicians in Washington, D.C. Residents in our state also have the right to know what organizations and activities are being funded with their Washington state tax dollars. A state version of the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act would allow state taxpayers, activists, bloggers, media and political organizations to easily examine the state budget.
The fiscal information needed to create a state searchable budget database should already be maintained by the Office of Financial Management. What is needed to bring this reform to Olympia is the commitment and courage of state officials. A searchable budget database would greatly increase the accountability and transparency of state spending decisions.
This is important because budget transparency and disclosure go a long way toward preventing waste and questionable spending decisions. Thomas Jefferson knew this in 1802 when he wrote, We might hope to see the finances of the Union as clear and intelligible as a merchants books, so that every member of Congress and every man of any mind in the Union should be able to comprehend them, to investigate abuses, and consequently to control them.
If even a spending-dysfunctional Congress can get its act together to bring about this needed reform, it should be a breeze for Washingtons progressive state officials to enanct and implement. Though a searchable budget database is not a cure-all for questionable government spending, it is a necessary part of the cure and would make budget transparency one click away for taxpayers.
U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., was co-sponsor of the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act. Jason Mercier is director of the Olympia-based Evergreen Freedom Foundations Economic Policy Center.
Hooray Tom Coburn! Hooray President Bush!
Very eye-opening and may be more than you want to know. ;)
WA State Ping...JFK
Who among our State Representatives and Senators have prime sponsored such legislation? How can we support such accountability and transparency here - then make is stick? Anyone here remember I-601? And what became of that?