The Institute for Transparent Government
February 2, 2009
Dear Virginia Lawmakers:
In July of 2007, then-Gov. Matt Blunt created the Missouri Accountability Portal (MAP) by Executive Order. Accessible at www.mapyourtaxes.mo.gov, the MAO is a searchable database of all Missouri expenditures; the MAP gives Missouri taxpayers the the ability to see how every single dollars is being spent. As of January 1, 2009, the MAP website has received over 17 million “hits.” Despite sentiment that spending transparency requires a massive cost outlay, we were able to implement this comprehensive Web site, which many considered the easiest and most thorough in the country, for less than $200,000.
Missouri citizens now have access to comprehensive and searchable expenditure information, public employee salaries, and tax credit issuance data. That data is updated each state business day. In the Governor’s office, we believed citizen oversight of the budgetary process to be a birthright. In spending their tax dollars, we in government had a responsibility to give the taxpayer a seat at the table by allowing them to search and scrutinize our expenditures and tax credits. In Missouri, they responded by logging onto the site in record numbers. Also, the press found the MAP site a useful tool for its efforts to write about state government.
We were able to deliver this service to the state of Missouri for far less than many may have estimated. The same will be true in Virginia with the passage of SB 936/HB 2285. The $3 million fiscal impact statement issued by the Department of Planning and Budget for SB 936 strikes me as is completely unrealistic; the entire federal budget was put online for a third of that cost. Rather, this fiscal impact statement strikes me as bureaucrats’ efforts to derail transparency.
I would encourage you to follow the lead of Missouri and over a dozen other states that have opted to bring transparency and accountability to their budgetary process by ignoring the erroneous price tag and supporting this legislation.
Edward R. Martin, Jr.
Chief of Staff to former Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt
Founder, the Institute for Transparent Government (www.crystalcleargovernment.com)