One local government, citizens welcome transparency tool

In an effort to become more transparent, ten local governments in South Carolina are posting their spending details on the Internet.Last year, state Comptroller Richard Eckstrom unveiled a spending transparency Web site for state government and expanded the transparency initiative to local governments, encouraging them to post their checkbooks on their Web sites.
The town of Turbeville launched their website in May which lets the people see how their dollars are being spent. Pat Goodwin, Town Administrator for Turbeville says it’s been a win-win situation.
“Our citizens and local folks are able to be aware of the spending … keep track of how our funds are spent here in town as well as well as keeping our governmental official accountable,”says Goodwin. “The local citizens are happy about that,because they want to make sure they’re getting the best bang for their tax dollar.”
Goodwin says that the town opted to post their information on the state website as well as on their local website, since their citizens are familiar with going there to get their information. But that’s not the only one who is studying their spending details.He says, “We have discovered that the local high school has been using it to -at the end of the year last year –to show kids how local government works. They used it as a teaching tool. My understanding from one of the teachers is they plan to do thatagain this year.”
In this Information Age, it’s not difficult or expensive to provide people easy access to government spending details.
Godwin explains, “It’s a matter of scanning -the check register that our treasurer prints off for us every month anyway –scanning it -making it a PDF file, downloading it to the website -takes me all of about five minutes.”
The Turbeville Administrator says they now have folks who have become interested in local government —those who may not be able to get to the meetings due of transportation or, work schedules, but by their posting the town’s spending details on the web, they’re able to see them with the click of the “mouse.”

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