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For Immediate Release

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March 20, 2014

Texas Comptroller Announces New Level of Transparency Awards For Local Government Entities

(AUSTIN) —Texas Comptroller Susan Combs is kicking off the fifth year of the Leadership Circle Program, which evaluates how local governments provide online access to their expenses and revenue, by announcing a higher level of financial transparency award.

Previously, the highest level of transparency awarded (Gold) went to recipients who posted - among other things - their budget, annual financial report, and check register online. The new Platinum Award level spotlights entities which meet Gold requirements and:

  • Post detailed summary information on their government website about current bonded debt and how it will be paid off.
  • Provide a link on their government website to the Comptroller’s website about transparency in government at www.texastransparency.org.
  • The chief executive (e.g., mayor, county judge, superintendent or executive director) signs a pledge to post, on their government website, information about proposed bond packages and existing debt and provide the Comptroller’s office with a link to this information no later than one business day after the public notice of the bond election.

A list of the first recipients of the new Platinum Award can be found at http://texastransparency.org/Local_Government/Leadership_Circle/Platinumlist.php

“Since we began the Leadership Circle program in December 2009, an increasing number of local governments have worked hard to open their books to citizens in order to demystify finances,” Combs said. “We thought it was important to recognize local entities that take even more steps to give taxpayers easily accessible information they need to help them make informed decisions as well as ask questions of their local elected leaders.” 

In 2013, 387 government entities were awarded Leadership Circle awards, up 38 percent over the first year of the program and a program record. Of that total, 325 entities were awarded Gold Awards, also a program record.

“We are honored to receive the Platinum Award for financial transparency from the Texas Comptroller’s office,” said Cochran County Auditor Danny Wiseley. “We believe in open government and feel it is important for our taxpayers to know how we are spending their money. Opening our books and posting our financial information online is easy and has actually saved us time because we can quickly direct people to our website when they call for information. They are tickled to death the information is out there.”

Local governments receiving a platinum, gold, silver or bronze Texas Comptroller Leadership Circle award have opened their books to the public and provide clear, consistent pictures of spending with detailed information on how tax dollars are allocated and spent. Top-ranking entities provide information online in an easily accessible, user-friendly format and set up features that allow taxpayers to easily drill down for more detailed information.

For tips and a step-by-step guide to achieve local government transparency, as well as a complete list of local governments in the Texas Comptroller Leadership Circle sorted by city, county, special districts, and school and college districts, visit www.TexasTransparency.org.

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