With Arizona OpenBooks, state finances at your fingertips

Arizona OpenBooks (Creative Commons photo by Flickr user futureshape)Byron Schlomach at the Goldwater Institute has noticed that with the new year, Arizona OpenBooks has come online.

The state’s newest effort toward transparency, mandated by a new law, Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) Section 41-725, is a freely accessible database fueled by the Arizona Financial Information System, which most state agencies use for their accounting. The site states that, “All revenues and expenditures are included. However, some are aggregated and some are shown in detail depending on their nature.”

What sort of information is on Arizona OpenBooks?
In a matter of moments, we can learn that the Arizona Commission on the Arts attracted $115,000 in federal grants in the first half of fiscal year 2011 (though we’d have to consult the commission to learn what the grants are for), or that the Department of Health Services spent $2.4 billion over the course of fiscal year 2010.

Dr. Scholmach suggests that with the debut of OpenBooks, Arizona has moved

from one of the least transparent states to, perhaps, one of the top 10. While the site is just a beginning and could use some refinements, it offers policymakers, legislators, and taxpayers important fiscal information, especially as the state looks for ways to rein in spending.

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