Following the money in Illinois just got a little easier. That’s thanks to a new searchable database called Openbook that lets Illinois residents find detailed information about the inner workings of state government.
Comptroller Leslie Munger unveiled the new service to state residents last week. She said the Openbook system gives users unprecedented online access to the state’s contracts and a campaign contributions list, as well as a convenient way to link one to the other.
“In Openbook we take our state contracts, which we have the database for state contracts, and we’ve merged that with data made available to us through the State Board of Elections,” said. “We’re able to look up companies that the state does business with and marry that with who gets or makes campaign contributions.”
Merging the two lists enables residents to use Openbook to check business contracts handed out by the state to companies or employees who may have made donations to a particular campaign.
Munger said the new service was added to provide Illinois residents with public information that is theirs to access in the first place, and to increase public official accountability and government transparency.
She called the Openbooks system a “Google-like feature” and a “true portal of transparency.” The service also has a mobile app and offers video tutorials for residents who may be uncertain about how the system works. She said she is hopeful residents use the service to do just that.
“The hope is the more we get information out there in a transparent and easily usable form, the more people will hold their elected officials accountable,” she said. “I think it definitely makes the data more transparent and we all know that when you hold people accountable, people tend to behave better.”
Information on the site goes back to 2004.
–Illinois News Network