I want to give you a heads up on a new transparency program my office is creating focused on increasing local government transparency throughout our state. We’re calling it Transparency Stars, and it will shed a brighter light on the activities of cities, counties, and school districts in Texas.
My office has long championed total transparency at the state level through the Comptroller’s website: Transparency Stars and my predecessor took important early steps to have local governments provide financial transparency through our leadership circle program.
But Texas taxpayers deserve more accountability at the local level than just hard to read financials posted on a local government’s website. Taxpayers deserve to have access to the important information that impacts their communities, including easy to read financial data, information on local contracts and the procurement process, economic development incentives, bond debt, and pension plans. For true transparency to exist, it is equally important that this information is presented in an understandable, user-friendly format. After all what good is data if it’s buried in so much legal or financial confusion that you need a law degree or an MBA to make sense of it?
That’s why we’re creating Transparency Stars. We’ll still be recognizing financial transparency, but that will only be the first of five potential stars local governments can earn. We’ll be offering stars in all of the categories I outlined above, but I need your help.
I’m asking you to provide me with input, and I’m also asking you to spread the word.
This week, my office will be providing an introductory outline via our website, and on March 1st we will begin accepting applications from local governments that want to be recognized as leaders in transparency and accountability. Alert your local elected officials! Let them know you will be monitoring their participation. Share this with other community leaders who understand how important this effort is.
Together we can shine a light into every dark corner and recognize governments at the local level that lead the way in providing taxpayers the information they need and deserve.