Taxpayer Safeguards

ARIZONA EARNS HIGH MARKS FOR TRANSPARENCY—Over the past few years, Arizona has gone from earning an “F” to earning an “B“ for government spending transparency, yet there is still room for improvement.

ARIZONA AT HEAD OF REPORTING SPENDING

The ability to see how government uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy. Transparency in government spending checks corruption, bolsters public confidence, and promotes fiscal responsibility.

In 2010, Arizona’s Department of Administration created a new transparency website called OpenBooks.az.gov. This website allows residents to monitor most state expenditures at the checkbook level.

The state can still do more to shine light on its expenditures. While the website tracks some subsidies in the form of grants and tax credits — and in some cases shows the number of jobs and investments that companies are expected to deliver — many subsidy programs lack this detail and no information is provided on the amount of tax credits given to individual companies.

Arizona decision makers should require comprehensive information on economic subsidies is added to this website.

TRANSPARENCY 2.0 STANDARDS

Today, you can go online to track packages in the mail, check your cell phone minutes, and compare real estate prices nationwide. Yet government spending continues to be analog. What we're calling Transparency 2.0 is a new standard of comprehensive, online one-stop, one-click budget accountability and accessibility.

The following are the Transparency 2.0 standards for comprehensive, one-stop, one-click budget accountability and accessibility:

Comprehensive: A user-friendly Web portal provides residents the ability to search detailed information about government contracts, spending, subsidies, and tax expenditures for all government entities.

One-Stop: Residents can search all government expenditures on a single website.

One-Click Searchable: Residents can search data with a single query or browse common-sense categories. Residents can sort data on government spending by recipient, amount, legislative district, granting agency, purpose, or keyword. Residents can also download data to conduct detailed off-line analyses.

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