NwOESC now on ohiocheckbook.com

Staff Report

Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel announced last Tuesday the launch of the Northwest Ohio Educational Service Center’s online checkbook on OhioCheckbook.com. In December 2014, Treasurer Mandel launched OhioCheckbook.com, which sets a new national standard for government transparency and for the first time in Ohio history puts all state spending information on the internet. OhioCheckbook.com recently earned Ohio the number one government transparency ranking in the country for the second year in a row.

The Ohio Treasurer’s office was joined at the announcement by Northwest Ohio Educational Service Center (ESC) Superintendent Kerri Gearhart, Treasurer Homer Hendricks and members of the Board of Education. The Northwest Ohio ESC is the first school district in Fulton County and fourth Educational Service Center in Ohio to post their spending on OhioCheckbook.com.

The Northwest Ohio ESC’s online checkbook includes over 65,000 individual transactions that represent more than $67 million of total spending over the past three Fiscal Years.

“I believe the people of Fulton County have a right to know how their tax money is being spent, and I applaud local leaders here for partnering with my office to post the finances on OhioCheckbook.com,” said Mandel. “By posting local government spending online, we are empowering taxpayers across Ohio to hold public officials accountable.”

“Northwest Ohio Educational Service Center is proud to be a leader in transparency in Northwest Ohio and join OhioCheckbook.com,” said Treasurer Homer Hendricks. “I believe leveraging this technology allows us to enhance our commitment to providing high quality educational programs and services and developing strong partnerships with member districts while maintaining cost-efficient operations.”

“I am excited that Northwest Ohio ESC is partnering with OhioCheckbook.com,” said State Representative Derek Merrin. “I applaud Northwest Ohio ESC for taking the opportunity to ensure citizens have easy access to their finances.”

On April 7, 2015 Treasurer Mandel sent a letter to 18,062 local government and school officials representing 3,962 local governments throughout the state calling on them to place their checkbook level data on OhioCheckbook.com and extending an invitation to partner with his office at no cost to local governments. These local governments include cities, counties, townships, schools, library districts and other special districts.

A large coalition of statewide and local government organizations have expressed support for OhioCheckbook.com and local government transparency, including: Ohio Municipal League, Ohio Township Association, Ohio Association of School Business Officials, Buckeye Association of School Administrators, County Commissioner Association of Ohio, County Auditor Association of Ohio, Ohio Newspaper Association, Ohio Society of CPAs, Buckeye Institute and Common Cause Ohio.

OhioCheckbook.com was launched on Dec. 2, 2014, marking the first time in Ohio history that citizens could actually see every expenditure in state government. Since its launch, OhioCheckbook.com has received overwhelming support from newspapers and groups across the state and, as of Dec. 19, 2016 there have been more than 681,000 total searches on the site.

OhioCheckbook.com displays more than $564 billion in spending over the past eight years, including more than 153 million transactions. The website includes cutting-edge features such as:

· “Google-style” contextual search capabilities, to allow users to sort by keyword, department, category or vendor;

· Fully dynamic interactive charts to drill down on state spending;

· Functionality to compare state spending year-over-year or among agencies; and,

· Capability to share charts or checks with social media networks, and direct contact for agency fiscal offices.

In March 2015, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) released their annual “Following the Money 2015” report and Ohio earned the number one transparency ranking in the country for providing online access to government spending data. In April 2016, U.S. PIRG announced that Ohio earned the number one government transparency ranking in the country for the second consecutive year. Due to the launch of OhioCheckbook.com, Ohio again received the highest perfect score of 100 points this year – marking the second time in two years Ohio received the highest possible score in the history of the U.S. PIRG transparency rankings.

The Treasurer’s office is partnering with OpenGov, a leading Silicon Valley government technology company, to provide residents of Ohio the ability to view and search local government expenditures in a user-friendly, digital format. “Ohio is setting the standard for financial transparency on an unprecedented scale. We are excited to partner with the Treasurer’s office to bring world-class technology to communities large and small across the state,” said Zachary Bookman, CEO of OpenGov.

Staff Report