Every year, state governments spend tens of billions of dollars through contracts for goods and services, subsidies to encourage economic development, and other expenditures. Accountability and public scrutiny are necessary to ensure that the public can trust that state funds are well spent.
In recent years, state governments across the country have created transparency websites that provide checkbook-level information on government spending – meaning that users can view the payments made to individual companies as well as details about the purchased goods, services or other public benefits. These websites allow residents and watchdog groups to ensure that taxpayers get their money’s worth.
Last year was the first time that all 50 states operated websites to make information on state spending accessible to the public. These web portals continue to improve. For instance, in 2014, 38 states’ transparency websites also provide checkbook-level detail on subsidies for economic development. Many states are also disclosing information that was previously “off budget” and are making it easy for outside researchers to download and analyze large data sets about government spending. Continue>>>