New Site Highlights Ohio’s Spending, Could Save Taxpayers $900,000 Annually

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Todd DeFeo (The Center Square),

The state has unveiled a new website that merges data from its interactive budget and another site that details its spending. The move could save taxpayers an estimated $900,000 per year.

OhioCheckbook.gov combines the OhioCheckbook.com and Ohio’s Interactive Budget websites. The Treasurer’s office previously ran OhioCheckbook.gov, while the Office of Budget and Management operated the Interactive Budget website.

Former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel unveiled OhioCheckbook.com in December 2014. To update the site, Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague worked with Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted to redesign and modernize the platform.

Sprague “came into office last year with the mission to modernize the Ohio Checkbook and offer a single portal to access state and local spending data,” Brittany Halpin, Sprague’s press secretary, said in an email.

“The result is the new and much-improved OhioCheckbook.gov,” Halpin said. “The new website not only includes spending data from more than 850 local governments across Ohio, but also state revenue and expenditure information that is updated on a daily basis.”

The new site includes real-time details about the state government’s financing, including spending by agency, information about state contracts and employee salaries. Local governments may voluntarily submit information for inclusion on the site.

The Office of Information Technology (OIT) will help the Ohio Treasurer’s office and the Office of Budget and Management (OBM) run the site.

“Since launching the Ohio Checkbook years ago, the Treasurer’s office had required outside vendor support to administer its site,” Carolyn Cypret, press secretary for Husted, said in an email. “The need for that support has been drastically reduced by merging their site with the existing OBM budget site.

“Moving forward, management of OhioCheckbook.gov will be done in tandem between the Treasurer’s office and the administration,” Cypret added. “The partnership allows for significantly reduced management and maintenance costs moving forward, which in our estimation, will total around $900,000. The new site will utilize existing state infrastructure, so we expect the ongoing maintenance to be minimal.”

The revamped website drew praise from groups such as The Buckeye Institute “for creating a single, easy-to-use online platform that empowers Ohioans to hold officials at all levels of government accountable for their spending decisions,” Robert Alt, the group’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

“Like its predecessor websites (OhioCheckbook.com and Ohio’ Interactive Budget), we hope the newly merged and improved website will provide inquiring Ohioans and the media with a glimpse as to how their tax dollars are spent,” Halpin said.

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