Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Oklahoma wins ‘A-’ in transparency after Doerflinger directive

OKLAHOMA CITY – Secretary of Finance and Revenue Preston L. Doerflinger announced Tuesday that a national transparency report has given Oklahoma an ‘A-’ in financial transparency, a major improvement from the ‘C+’ grade the state received last year.
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Education Fund’s “Following the Money 2013” report rates states on online access to government spending information. As Oklahoma’s central financial management agency, the Office of Management and Enterprise Services maintains several transparency websites providing state financial information, including OpenBooks and data.ok.gov, where the public can access millions of records related to government spending.
“Open, honest government is priority No. 1 in this office,” said Doerflinger, who is also director of OMES. “As the state’s primary bookkeeper, we are 100 percent committed to making it as easy as possible for the public to access its information. I am incredibly proud of the OMES team for this accomplishment.”
Oklahoma was one of only seven “Leading States” receiving an ‘A’ in financial transparency from PIRG. Oklahoma’s score was 91, up from 78 in 2012. In addition, Oklahoma’s high-level of transparency was accomplished at surprisingly low cost to taxpayers, with startup expenses of just $8,600, using existing staff, and annual operating costs of just $3,600. One state listed startup costs of $2.2 million, plus annual expenses of $400,000.
“We’re right where we should be, among the nation’s leaders. Few states made gains as big as ours this year, and few states are as cost-effective as we are,” Doerflinger said. “I blew a gasket when we got the ‘C+’ last year. I was absolutely livid. That grade certainly didn’t reflect the premium commitment our agency places on transparency, so we began immediate, major efforts to improve. Today, I’m pleased to say we succeeded. We’ll be shooting for an even higher score next year.”
The PIRG report grades states based on online availability and accessibility of information pertaining to state expenditures, revenues, contracts, tax credits, grants and other financial information.
“The seven states leading in online spending transparency have created user-friendly websites that provide users with information on an array of checkbook-level expenditures,” the PIRG report states. “Up until a few years ago, most citizens were completely in the dark about the details of how their state government spent taxpayer dollars.”
The report added: “Recently, however, the spending data disclosed by states online has multiplied and improved. Hundreds of billions of dollars in checkbook-level detail are now accessible at the click of the mouse.”
“Following the Money 2013” is available at: http://www.uspirg.org/reports/usf/following-money-2013.

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