The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Editorial

January 8, 2008

Eyes on records

<b>New Web site makes state records easier to see</b>

The information is virtually at your fingertips.

All you have to do is go to www.openbooks.ok.gov, and you can find a wealth of information about state government. The new Web site went online last week.

This is a good first step for Oklahoma government in giving the people a good look at state spending. It’s called transparency in government, and the more there is, the better it is.

One thing we’ve already learned is the Oklahoma House has spent more than $1.6 million for furniture and related equipment in the past two years. That translates to about $16,386 for each of the House’s 101 members.

By contrast, the Senate has spent $333,786 on furnishings in the past two years — less than $7,000 for each of the 48 senators.

We encourage everyone to check out the site and learn to use it.

It’s a pretty safe bet journalists are going to be poring over the site looking for tidbits of information to report on. However, we can’t stress enough the Web site is not just for journalists. It’s for all Oklahomans.

As we said, the site is a good first step. We would love to see more detail, especially breaking down expenditures per lawmaker. Sure, we have the overall figures for how much the House has spent for furniture. But, what about individual legislators? Constituents deserve to know how much their representative is spending.

The more transparency there is in how the government spends the public’s money, the more our elected officials will be held accountable for that spending.

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