Getting serious about governmental transparency
By Lt. Governor André Bauer
In the face of continuing news reports of lost, found, and stolen state funds, I am unveiling the Lieutenant Governor’s Office transparency initiative that can be quickly adopted at little cost by all state agencies, giving taxpayers an unprecedented view of state finances.
As a true conservative I believe that the people, the voters, the taxpayers, my constituents, have an absolute right to know how state government is handling their finances.
Therefore I am as shocked as any other taxpayer to hear about $5 million being stolen from Department of Social Services, one $7,000 check after another for more than five years.
I am as frustrated as any other elected official to hear that while we grapple with cuts to hospice programs for seniors and autism services for children, hundreds of millions of dollars are hidden from public view in reserve accounts by the Department of Health and Human Services.
I am as baffled as any business person that $250,000 for a veterans program can be ‘lost’ in the Governor’s Office, only to be quickly ‘found’ when a legislator calls for an audit.
Therefore I am completely delighted to implement a solution that lets anyone go to the internet and view what is tantamount to the monthly bank statement for every state agency.
This builds on the commendable efforts of Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom to provide taxpayers what are essentially the cancelled checks of South Carolina state government.
But, we can — and we must — do much more.
I applaud him for embracing my initiative by going the further step, which places on the internet a current report used by all state agencies and issued by his office – and is the equivalent of a monthly bank statement. It shows not only the checks written, but the balances.
My staff and Comptroller General Eckstrom’s staff are working together to make this process more user friendly. The beginning point is for state agencies to turn these monthly reports into pdf files that can be placed on the internet with little cost. Our objective ultimately is to adapt technology so that these reports become data bases that can be researched by taxpayers.
In the meantime, today I am sending every agency head in South Carolina my personal request that they take the identical steps we have taken in the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.
Let’s restore taxpayer confidence in our stewardship of their money. Let’s get serious about transparency. The people who pay the bills – the hard-working taxpayers of South Carolina – deserve no less.