Thursday, February 5, 2009

Transparency and taxes

Through a bipartisan effort, the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act was signed into law in 2006. The Web site,, went live on Dec. 13, 2007. This is free, publicly searchable Web site for federal contracts, grants and payments with exceptions for classified information, federal assistance payments made to individuals and personal information that affects federal employees such as wage garnishments. Inspired by the federal effort, Kansas became the first state to make expenditures available on their Web site. Several other states have followed suit. A Taxpayer Transparency Act was introduced in Colorado in 2007, but it was killed in a house committee.

Colorado should increase the effort to be transparent by making expenditures available and understandable through the State Web site. The data should be searchable within categories and be accompanied by a very brief explanation.

True transparency must include ready access to reliable, comprehensive, timely and easily understandable, information on spending. Active participation of Colorado citizens will depend on the ease of use of this system.

The link to this searchable database should be prominently displayed on the home page of the State’s Web site. The money the State spends is taxpayer money, and through this system the taxpayer will be empowered to see how their tax money is spent.

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