JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri State Treasurer Eric Schmitt has been looking to increase the state’s accountability in terms of finance, and the latest move from his office is putting a report card within easy access to every Missourian.
Schmitt and his office on Tuesday unveiled ShowMeCheckbook.mo.gov, a website highlighting the financial data, powered by over 20 million individual data points and placing as much financial data for the state in one single digital location.
“Unfortunately, in the past, the state has not provided adequate tools for accessing information about state finances,” Schmitt said. “Show-Me Checkbook gives greater access to state finances by creating a one-stop-shop for information on state spending, revenue, payroll, debt, and cash flow. Missourians have a right to see how their money is being spent and managed in Jefferson City and Show-Me Checkbook lets them do just that.”
Schmitt said that the existing transparency portals, such as MAP (Missouri Accountability Portal), had become outdated (having been implemented in 2007 under then-Gov. Matt Blunt), noting that the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) had given the state a D+ grade for financial transparency back in April of this year.
“When MAP went online, Netflix was still a DVD service,” he said. “Technology has changed, and our financial transparency tools have fallen behind.”
According to PIRG, websites like Show-Me Checkbook could lead to significant cost-savings for states. Schmitt pointed to Texas, which saved an estimated $163 million as a result of a similar project, while North Carolina credits their website with leading to a comprehensive reform of their state purchasing laws.
Show-Me Checkbook draws data from the State of Missouri’s accounting system along with state agency reports, using graphs and charts to display the data, broken out into various tabs.
Schmitt said this had been a priority since taking office and had spent time surveying the other accountability websites before spending the last six months or so developing the website internally, which he said cost them less than $2,000.
The Missouri Press Association released a statement on Tuesday, praising the launch:
“Before the launch of Show-Me Checkbook, financial transparency tools across state government were complicated, outdated and disconnected. This new website gives Missourians easier access to crucial information about how their government operates, which is a step in the right direction toward greater transparency.”
“As financial professionals, the Missouri Society of Certified Public Accountants knows how important it is for the government to give citizens access to information about how taxpayer dollars are being spent and managed,” said Jim O’Hallaron, President and CEO of the Missouri Society of CPAs. “We wholeheartedly support efforts to increase the transparency of state finances, including Treasurer Schmitt’s launch of Show-Me Checkbook.”
Schmitt encourages citizen watchdogs who find interesting or concerning data trends through Show-Me Checkbook to contact his office through the submission link that appears on the bottom of each page of the website.
Visit the website here: https://treasurer.mo.gov/showmecheckbook/.
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.