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State Treasurer Transparency Efforts Comes With High Price Tag

State Treasurer Josh Mandel has been recruiting agencies to take part in Ohio Checkbook.
Ohio State Treasurer

It turns out OhioCheckbook.gov comes – like most checking accounts -- with fees that total around $2.7 million.

State Treasurer Josh Mandel is going to the Ohio Controlling Board Monday morning to get the OK for a no-bid contract with a California startup called OpenGov. 

Mandel has won praise and bipartisan support for his effort to get cities, schools and other local governments to be transparent about their spending. But he hadn’t discussed the cost of the project.

Phineas Baxandall is with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, which advocates for more transparency. He says Ohio has made huge strides in helping people see what their governments spend, but such efforts aren’t cheap.

“The good thing with this information is that it already exists. Most of it’s already on some spreadsheet and just needs to be made public," Baxandall said. "It’s not costless because you want to be careful that you’re not giving away somebody’s bank account, you’re not giving away confidential information about who receives what kind of medicine or where someone in the witness protection program is located.” 

Baxandall says the open government efforts often pay dividends by encouraging governments to spend more efficiently and collaboratively.

The controlling board is expected to OK $1.3 million this year and $1.4 million next year.