BIRMINGHAM – Taxpayers will be able to see where every dime of state money goes under an executive order Governor Bob Riley signed today.
The directive orders the creation of a publicly accessible website that details all spending, grants and contracts done by state government.
The public information will include the amount of funds being spent, the date of the expenditure, the agency spending the money and the funding source.
“Taxpayers will know where their money goes and to whom it goes," said Governor Riley.
Governor Riley signed the executive order during the annual meeting of the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama (PARCA), where he delivered remarks on the need for ethics reform and more accountability in state government.
“You shouldn’t have to be an investigative reporter to find out how the state spends tax dollars. So with this executive order, we’re going to put the state’s checkbook online," Governor Riley said.
“This reform empowers taxpayers to become fiscal watchdogs. With this website detailing the expenditures of all state funds, Alabama will take a giant leap forward in government transparency."
The Governor’s directive orders the Finance Department to develop and operate a website providing information “of all appropriated or non-appropriated funds by a state agency in forms including, but not limited to, grants, contracts and subcontracts.”
The executive order states the website must be online no later than March 1 of this year with information on spending from fiscal year 2008 and with monthly reports of expenditures incurred in the 2009 fiscal year.
Software that makes the database searchable must be in place by September 1.
Governor Riley has continually advocated for greater transparency in government.
He is the only Alabama governor to voluntarily disclose spending from the Governor’s Contingency Fund and use of state aircraft. With the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Responsive and Transparent) Governing reform he instituted, all state agencies must set goals and detail their plans for spending taxpayer dollars.
During his remarks to PARCA, Governor Riley also discussed his proposal to overhaul Alabama’s ethics code for public officials.
He announced his plan for an ethics code overhaul in his State of the State Address last week and plans to submit the proposal to the Legislature next week.
Provisions of the Governor’s ethics code overhaul require full disclosure of all spending by lobbyists on public servants, disclosure of contracts that public servants have with entities that receive public funds, and subpoena power for the Alabama Ethics Commission.
Governor Riley said he is urging members of PARCA and all citizens who want ethics reform to contact legislators.
“These times call for action – not only from public servants in Montgomery, but also from the people who sent us here. You can be sure those who oppose this plan will be at work in the halls of the State House. But your collective influence can be a powerful counterbalance,” Governor Riley said.