Brandon Woolf for State Controller

Improving Government Transparency

At the founding of our republic, our nation’s forefathers grasped the importance of making the financial dealings of our fledgling nation open to scrutiny.  Though they could not imagine the technological advances of the coming years, they understood it was the citizens’ government and the citizens’ money.  Citizens deserved then, as they do today, to know how their tax dollars are spent and what their government is doing.  Our freedom depends on it.

This is one reason why I launched Transparent Idaho, the state’s financial transparency website that was nominated for the prestigious Max Dalton Open Government Award from the Idaho Newspaper Foundation.  For years Idaho has opened its books to citizens through a variety of reports my office publishes and the Idaho Public Records Act, but it wasn’t always easy for people to find and receive the information they needed.

Transparent Idaho makes thousands of financial reports, from broad summaries to detailed snapshots, available with only a few clicks of a mouse.  The information on the site is current, with much of the data being updated daily.  Citizens can even download raw data, so they can run their own analysis on public records.

Public policy can be dramatically improved when there is a two-way conversation between policymakers and the public, and both can benefit by having convenient access to the information that underlies all government actions.  By opening the state’s books on the
internet, I hope to expand the dialog about governing, to help provide policymakers and citizens alike the tools they need for robust debate, so all can understand the implications, costs, and benefits of public policy decisions.

I believe citizens don’t just need to know about the inner-workings of their government, they have a right to know.

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