Wisconsin has taken a major step toward transparency in government by opening its checkbook to anyone who wants to look, according to reports by Wisconsin Public Radio (Mike Simonson) and The Beacon of Lake Geneva (Dennis West).
“It’s called ‘Open Book Wisconsin’,” according to the report in The Beacon (http://readthebeacon.com/issue/032213.pdf). “‘Open Book’ is two years in the making, promised by Governor [Scott] Walker as a way to make state government transparent. Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch says there was a lot of information from all state agencies to enter. ‘We’re basically putting the state’s checkbook on the Internet,’ said Huebsch. ‘The power of this particular program will be to provide information to any taxpayer who wants to sit in front of his or her computer, unlike anything even a governor has had ever before.’
“‘Open Book’ gives Internet access to anything the state spends, although it will be a work in progress. Huebsch says they’ve been giving it a test run, just in case it comes back to bite them. ‘I’m not afraid,’ he says. ‘I’m certain it will. There are items that appear, such as where we are spending money with Joe’s Liquor Store. What we didn’t know until we looked into it is that Joe’s Liquor Store is actually the local BPstation and it’s doing business as Joe’s Liquor Store. So, while we may be purchasing gas at the BP station, we’re actually writing the check to Joe’s Liquor Store.’
“Huebsch says this will be a first-of-its-kind website in the country. State employee salaries and fringe benefits will be added in the coming months. A few names will be kept off to protect certain people, however, such as undercover law enforcement agents or victims of domestic abuse.”
From the April 3-9, 2013, issue