State Controller Brandon Woolf is presenting his budget request to JFAC this morning, and he highlighted the “Transparent Idaho” government transparency site that he and Gov. Butch Otter unveiled yesterday. “Historically, the greatest impediment to building a transparency site was the cost,” Woolf said in his presentation. “When we’ve scoped this project before, the estimated cost came in as high as $250,000, due mainly to software licensing.”
Staff in the controller’s office found ways to enable their existing technology to “bring the first phase of the website online without having to license new software, expensive software,” Woolf told JFAC. “It features easy to read charts and graphs and allows users to download raw data so they can do their own analysis. … Right now we’re on the right road toward improving Idaho’s financial transparency. I’m proud of the staff’s work to build Transparent Idaho within our existing IT infrastructure. This is a good step and more will follow.”
Woolf’s budget request for next year requests an 18.5 percent boost in general funds, but 80 percent of the increase is due to a one-time, $896,000 request to retire the mainframe computer and convert the state’s accounting and payroll applications to open systems. “Re-platforming these applications preserves the value of the investments the state has already made, extends their useful lives, and delays the need to spend millions on new systems until the economy improves,” Woolf said. “I won’t sugar-coat this. There will come a day when we will need to invest millions of dollars into new accounting and payroll systems. Like you, I want to extend this day as far out as I can.” Gov. Butch Otter included full funding for the request in his budget recommendation.