Spending Transparency: Vital to the State of our Union

The following Thomas Jefferson quote is getting a lot of play these days in connection with transparency Web sites. Not that Jefferson was much of ...
by | May 11, 2009
 

The following Thomas Jefferson quote is getting a lot of play these days in connection with transparency Web sites. Not that Jefferson was much of a computer user. But here goes:

"We might hope to see the finances of the Union as clear and intelligible as a merchant's books, so that every member of Congress and every man of any mind in the Union should be able to comprehend them, to investigate abuses, and consequently to control them."

--Thomas Jefferson, 1802

Like "merchants' books," government spending transparency is supposed to stem corruption, bolster public confidence in government and promote fiscal responsibility, according to a March report by the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group.

At least 19 states mandate online databases so people can search for details of government expenditures, according to "Transparency.gov 2.0." Oregon has some catching up to do with this nationwide movement to enhance budget transparency, the report also says.

The Oregon report's value for other states is the best practices information. Also check out Governing's "See-Thru Government" story on state spending transparency, if you haven't already read it.

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