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Eye On Boise

Thu., Jan. 30, 2014, 8:03 a.m.

Woolf: Transparency is the ‘cornerstone of good government’

Idaho State Controller Brandon Woolf (Betsy Russell)
Idaho State Controller Brandon Woolf (Betsy Russell)

Idaho State Controller Brandon Woolf says the transparency website he launched last year, making large quantities of state data available online for free, has been popular. “Since launching the site, the volume of public records requests my office has received has gone down significantly,” Woolf told the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee this morning. “I firmly believe in government transparency. … It’s the cornerstone of good government.”

Woolf has requested $132,000 next year to upgrade the site, with all but $22,000 of that for one-time expenses, but Gov. Butch Otter hasn’t recommended the funding. “When I launched Transparent Idaho last January, our goal was to provide the maximum transparency for Idaho’s citizens at the smallest cost,” Woolf told JFAC. The entire project was “paid for out of one-time savings in our budget.” He said, “If our transparency website were a car, it would be a bare-bones truck, no air conditioning, no power windows.” His requested upgrade would include work in his accounting and payroll divisions for software licensing and website redevelopment work. The site provides updated data daily on everything from state salaries to agency expenditures.

When lawmakers asked Woolf about Otter not recommending the funding, he acknowledged that, saying, “We can continue to run it and use it as-is, it just may not be as robust a system as we would like.” Woolf's request says, “The site was designed to meet citizens’ basic transparency needs, but without substantial investment, it will continue to fall short of meeting nationwide transparency best practices.”

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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