Tuesday, August 21, 2018

State treasurer announces of launch of website that will offer information about Missouri finances

(From State Treasurer Eric Schmitt)

Missouri State Treasurer Eric Schmitt today announced the launch of new transparency website where citizens can access information about government finances. The website, ShowMeCheckbook.mo.gov, is powered by over 20 million individual data points, making it one of the most comprehensive state government financial data portals in the country.

“Unfortunately in the past the state has not provided adequate tools for accessing information about state finances,” Schmitt said. “Show-Me Checkbook gives greater access to state finances by creating a one-stop-shop for information on state spending, revenue, payroll, debt and cash flow. Missourians have a right to see how their money is being spent and managed in Jefferson City and Show-Me Checkbook lets them do just that.”

Prior to the launch of the new website, state financial data was often difficult to find and analyze. As a result, Missouri received a D+ grade for financial transparency from the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) in April of this year. Advocates see Show-Me Checkbook as an important step toward increasing transparency.

The Missouri Press Association released a statement today praising the launch of the new website: “Before the launch of Show-Me Checkbook, financial transparency tools across state government in Missouri were complicated, outdated and disconnected. This new website gives Missourians easier access to crucial information about how their government operates, which is a step in the right direction toward greater transparency.”

Sheila Weinberg, founder and CEO of government watchdog group Truth in Accounting, also sees the creation of a comprehensive data portal for Missouri finances as step forward.

“Truth in Accounting is pleased to see Treasurer Schmitt's efforts to create the Show-Me Checkbook, which provides citizens with a transparent and easy-to-understand website to obtain information about their state's finances," Weinberg said in a statement.

Show-Me Checkbook was designed to be user-friendly while maintaining the unprecedented depth of data exploration available through its interface. Government accounting experts and data analysts contributed to the review of the portal to ensure an accurate reflection of accounting standards.

“As financial professionals, the Missouri Society of Certified Public Accountants knows how important it is for the government to give citizens access to information about how taxpayer dollars are being spent and managed,” said Jim O'Hallaron, President and CEO of the Missouri Society of CPAs. “We wholeheartedly support efforts to increase the transparency of state finances, including Treasurer Schmitt’s launch of Show-Me Checkbook.”

According to PIRG, websites like Show-Me Checkbook can result in significant cost-savings for states that launch them. Texas saved an estimated $163 million as a result of a similar project, and North Carolina credits their website with leading to a comprehensive reform of their state purchasing laws.

Show-Me Checkbook draws data from the State of Missouri’s accounting system along with state agency reports. Treasurer Schmitt is encouraging citizen watchdogs who find interesting or concerning data trends through Show-Me Checkbook to contact his office through the submission link that appears on the bottom of each page of the website.

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