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For Immediate Release
December 8, 2008

State implementing practical strategies in government transparency, spending

By Susan Combs
Texas Comptroller

At our office, we continuously pore over budgets in keeping the books for our agency and the state as a whole — a large task, and one that should be open to scrutiny. By my fourth day as Comptroller, we published all of our agency expenditures online, right down to the pencils. And thanks to the Where the Money Goes Web site, our expenditures and those of other state agencies are available and easily searchable online.

In these tough economic times, Texans deserve to know their tax dollars are used wisely. Just as working families must cut expenses and look for ways to save, government must tighten its belt and make the most of every dollar.

To do our part in improving Texas government, we recently introduced Open Book Texas, a three-part set of initiatives aimed at improving government spending, transparency and accounting accuracy.

First Initiative: Texas Smart Buy

Transparency helps spotlight spending inefficiencies after the fact, and our office also works to make Texas state government a better shopper from the outset. That is where Texas Smart Buy helps.

The initiative gives agencies and local governments access to an online shopping cart – much like shopping at popular online retailers – that allows them to purchase goods and services through state-negotiated contracts. By purchasing from those contracts, individual purchasers can leverage the state of Texas’ bulk buying power to receive lower prices.

For years, families have bought in bulk to save money, and it makes sense for state government to have the same option.

Second Initiative: Texas Transparency Check-Up

With the rollout of a new Web site, Texas Transparency Check-Up, our office expands on previous online accountability efforts and encourages transparency at all levels of Texas government finance.

The Web site offers transparency guidance to local governments and provides Texans an opportunity to see how well their local governments stack up in offering online access to financial information.

When you know what you are spending, you know how to spend better. Our office is committed to seeing that philosophy spread to every level of government. In the age of the Internet, there is seldom a reason to not publish public information online.

Third Initiative: Single Set of Books

To shine more light on state agency bookkeeping, beyond our Where the Money Goes online expenditure database, we are pursuing an initiative to introduce more uniformity in Texas government accounting.

Today, we have many sets of books of sometimes conflicting accounting data across Texas state agencies, a recipe for duplication that can make accurate bookkeeping an enormous challenge. With the Single Set of Books Initiative, our office will work with agencies to present a report to the Legislature on ways that state accounting systems and processes can be made more accurate and useful in decision making.

Transparency and wise spending are important during the best of times, and absolutely essential during an uncertain economy when there are no dollars to waste. We need to be sure we show the same common sense, resourcefulness and thrift when spending money as the hardworking citizens of the Lone Star State.


For an in-depth look at Open Book Texas, visit www.window.state.tx.us/openbook/.

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