The Edmond Sun

Opinion

August 23, 2010

Open Books 2.0 will have far-reaching impact

EDMOND — During the most recent legislative session I was privileged to work on two major initiatives designed to open up Oklahoma government to the purview of taxpayers as has never before been possible.

One of these initiatives was Senate Bill 1759, which is commonly known as the Government 2.0 proposal. I authored this legislation with state Sen. Anthony Sykes. This bill contained a series of transparency initiatives, including the codification of what I believe is the first comprehensive state-level Government 2.0 plan in the nation. In the future I intend to write articles about this bill that will describe the implications of the changes and ways this will allow you to hold state government responsible.

The other initiative was House Bill 3422, which was authored by Rep. Ken Miller and Sen. Clark Jolley. The plan is known as the Open Books 2.0 proposal and was requested by Miller and the Oklahomans for Responsible Government group. OFRG routinely utilizes Web-based reporting to conduct studies that help document how accountable various government entities are. The individuals at OFGR are becoming experienced in using Web-based transparency platforms and noticed that Oklahoma’s open books policies (the policy by which state government must place expenses online) was falling behind that of other states.

Current Oklahoma law does not require all state expenditures to be placed online and the expenditures are not easily searchable. This makes it difficult for those who want to find out where state government is spending money.

I was honored to work with OFRG, Miller and Jolley and help develop the transparency criteria that eventually were placed into the new law. HB 3422 will require not only that all state government purchases be placed online, but also will ensure that those expenditures are searchable by name.

No longer will taxpayers be forced to scroll through page after page of expenditures in order to find the name of an individual or company who is receiving a government check. Now, taxpayers will be able to search by name and can quickly find out how much that entity is receiving.

The spend data also will be available for export in standardized formats so that the data can be downloaded and analyzed. This will enable third party organizations representing taxpayers to perform complex analysis of government spending. In addition, the data will be archived and kept on file so that not only will documentation of the expenditures remain open to the public, but long-term spending trends can be analyzed as well.

I very much enjoyed being able to help with this legislation and believe the implications of these reforms will be extremely far reaching in deterring inappropriate government spending. In a future update I will write about some of the exciting tax-credit transparency language that also will go into law as a result of House Bill 3422.

REP. JASON MURPHEY, R-Guthrie, represents House District 31, which encompasses all of Logan County and a portion of northern Edmond. He may be reached via e-mail at jason.murphey@okhouse.gov.

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Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

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