Increasing budget transparency over the Internet
February 10, 2009
- Seeks to increase transparency by providing on-line appropriations and budget information, allowing for answers to more probing, relevant questions about state budgeting and spending.
- Creates a process where this landmark program can be implemented as responsibly and affordably as possible, and without significant costs in this biennium.
- During the interim, the Legislative Budget Board, Governor’s Office, Office of Legislative Council, Department of Information Resources, and Comptroller would work with researchers at the University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs and consider available technologies and potential innovations that would make the appropriations process more transparent.
- The study would focus on making raw, sortable appropriations data available on-line and likely build on the Comptroller’s ongoing Enterprise Resource Planning System project to collect uniform data on actual state spending.
- The group would have to report to the legislature by June 2010.
- Study focuses would include Public Transparency (providing and analyzing different kinds of budgetary information), Electronic Distribution (distributing documents such as proposed riders, line-items and budget reports), and Information Technology (to support improved access, transparency and distribution).
- The LBB and Comptroller would then develop cost estimates for implementation and submit those to the Legislature.
- At least initially, the state would not need to develop a web site that would present the data online. It would simply make the information available to the general public.
- Availability of electronic appropriations and budgeting data has not kept up with technological advances that allow for easy public access and sophisticated analysis.
- A group at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, led by professor Gary Chapman and former Texas Rep. Sherri Greenberg, has done extensive work in trying to make government appropriations processes more transparent. This group’s expertise, in conjunction with staffs of the LBB, Comptroller, and other agencies, could provide far more information to taxpayers about how the budget is written and money is spent.
- This study effort would have minimal costs to the 2010-11 budget.
- While other states have developed or are developing programs to improve budget transparency, this effort would break new ground in the effort by giving researchers access to comprehensive line-item data.
- The state has made great strides in providing spending and appropriations information to the public. This study would be the next step in making that information more relevant, revealing, and transparent.
© 2016 Kirk Watson Texas Senator All Rights Reserved
Political advertisement paid for by Kirk Watson Campaign,
P.O. Box 2004, Austin, TX, 78768; Rosie Mendoza,Treasurer.