State government goes ‘transparent' with new Web site


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SALT LAKE CITY -- State officials unveiled the Utah's new transparency Web site Tuesday. Now if you want to know how much the Utah Department of Transportation spent on office supplies or the how much the State Office of Education distributed to schools, you can find it on the Web.

Utah collects and spends roughly $10 billion on things like roads and schools each year. It's been tough for the average citizen to see where the money goes, until now.

"When we talk about transparency, we also talk about accountability. And this will allow the public to kind of keep our feet to the fire, as far as how we spend money, and they will know," said Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert.

The new Web site, transparent.utah.gov, cost the state $125,000 to set up and will allow Utahns to drill down into the details of state government revenues and expenditures, department by department and dollar by dollar.

"This is truly a great day. I don't think we know how a great a day it is. But people now, taxpayers and citizens, will no longer be burdened by a paper system of requests," said Sen. Wayne Niederhouser, R-Sandy.

In all, the site currently tracks 4.6 million transactions, a number which will grow over time. It doesn't include employee salaries, though they could be eventually be added. Some information will be withheld for privacy or logistical reasons, and it will show how much money an agency spent on travel, for instance, but not who traveled or where.

For now, the transparency link will be separate from the one tracking state officials campaign disclosures, but that could change. "The legislative disclosures, bringing in our campaign finances, the gifts, the lobbyists; [we're] bringing it into one Web site."

State officials plan to update the site on a quarterly basis. Next year, there will be even more, with local governments posting their information online on the state's site.

E-mail: jdaley@ksl.com

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