(Chicago, IL) — December 4, 2009. The Illinois Policy Institute has launched a new Web site–IllinoisOpenGov.org–to help Illinois taxpayers pry open a window for a better view of Illinois state government spending.
The IllinoisOpenGov.org site aims to provide “an unbiased look into raw state government spending data collected directly from official government sources,” according to the group’s press release.
Let’s hope the “unbiased look” pledge endures.
IllinoisOpenGov.org offers a comprehensive supplement to the Illinois Accountability Portal, which lists information on state employee pay, state agency expenditures and contracts, professional licenses and corporate accountability by including the following additional information:
- Details of state spending avail-able in easy-to-use, downloadable, Excel or CSV file formats, allowing anyone to re-purpose the data for their own use.
- Salary and benefit information for all Illinois government workers (as opposed to the state’s current site, which at this point does not include information on statewide benefits data or legislative salaries).
- Information on payouts to re-tired state employees.
- Blog with highlights posted regularly from the database.
- Forum for public conversation and offers the option for commenting on individual expense items.
Initially, IllinoisOpenGov.org will list state employee salary, retiree pensions and vendor information; ultimately, the site will include all state spending – providing citizens and the media with a better tool to use in the analysis of state spending decisions.
Improving transparency on government finances is always a welcome initiative. If the “unbiased look” by the Illinois Policy Institute holds as a central tenet, then they have the makings of a successful project. If the data generated from the Web site is wielded merely as another tool in which to club Democrats, then the project’s credibility will suffer.
Let’s hope for the best.