Treasurer Mandel Earns Ohio #1 Government Transparency Ranking in the Country for Third Year in a Row
Highest U.S. PIRG Score Received Again as OhioCheckbook.com Continues to Lead the Pack and Set a New National Standard for Government Transparency
COLUMBUS – The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) released their annual “Following the Money 2018” report today and Treasurer Josh Mandel earned Ohio the number one transparency ranking in the country for the third consecutive year in a row. Due to the launch of OhioCheckbook.com, Ohio again received the highest score this year.
"For years now, Ohio has been setting the national standard for state spending transparency,” said Michelle Surka, program director with U.S. PIRG. “This year, we're glad to see the state continue to push the bar by adding more municipalities, pension funds, and state universities to its online checkbook."
“I believe the people of Ohio have a right to know how their tax money is being spent,” said Treasurer Mandel. “We are proud to be setting the national standard for government transparency and we will continue empowering taxpayers across Ohio to hold public officials accountable.”
This report is the U.S. PIRG’s eighth annual evaluation of state transparency websites. Read the U.S. PIRG press release, the full report, and a list of the 50 state rankings at:
USPIRG.org. Highlights of the U.S. PIRG Report’s references to Ohio’s transparency site include:
- Pg. 2 – “Eight states, led by Ohio… are leading in spending transparency, setting an example for other states nationwide.”
- Pg. 20 – “Citizens have come to expect information hosted online to be accompanied by comprehensive search functions, such as intuitive ‘Google-style’ search bars. States such as Ohio host this particular function, making their sites approachable and instantly understandable for citizens; as one researcher commented of Ohio, ‘this site is so beautiful and easy to use!’”
- Pg. 24 – “States such as Ohio… provide responsive charts and graphs that show spending information for departments and categories as users navigate through the site. Researchers frequently commented on the inclusion of charts on state websites; one researcher commented she thought the charts on Ohio’s site were ‘lovely.’”
- Pg. 31 – “States continue to expand the universe of data accounted for by their transparency portals. One important next step would be to support transparency efforts at the municipal and county levels and make spending data provided by those entities available through the state’s transparency website. Ohio is a leader in this regard, already incorporating many localities into the central transparency site.”
OhioCheckbook.com was launched on December 2, 2014, marking the first time in Ohio history when citizens could actually see every expenditure in state government. Since its launch, OhioCheckbook.com has received overwhelming support from newspapers and groups across the state and, as of April 23, 2018 there have been more than 948,000 total searches on the site.
OhioCheckbook.com displays more than $644 billion in spending over the past ten years, including more than 173 million transactions. The website includes cutting-edge features such as:
- “Google-style” contextual search capabilities, to allow users to sort by keyword, department, category or vendor;
- Fully dynamic interactive charts to drill down on state spending;
- Functionality to compare state spending year-over-year or among agencies; and,
- Capability to share charts or checks with social media networks, and direct contact for agency fiscal offices.
On April 7, 2015 Treasurer Mandel sent a letter to 18,062 local government and school officials representing 3,962 local governments throughout the state calling on them to place their checkbook level data on OhioCheckbook.com and extending an invitation to partner with his office at no cost to local governments. These local governments include cities, counties, townships, schools, library districts and other special districts.
To date, more than 1,370 local governments and school districts have committed to partnering with OhioCheckbook.com. Combined, these entities display on OhioCheckbook.com over 237 million individual transactions representing more than $102 billion in local government and school district spending.
A large coalition of statewide and local government organizations have expressed support for OhioCheckbook.com and local government transparency, including:
- Ohio Municipal League
- Ohio Township Association
- Ohio Association of School Business Officials
- Buckeye Association of School Administrators
- County Commissioner Association of Ohio
- County Auditor Association of Ohio
- Ohio Newspaper Association
- Ohio Society of CPAs
- Buckeye Institute
- Common Cause Ohio
For more information or to view how your money is being spent, please visit OhioCheckbook.com.