Warner Todd Huston
Illinois county auditor launches promising transparency in gov't effort
By Warner Todd Huston
January 14, 2009

OK, we all know how corrupt and venal the various governments in Illinois are, right? Well, let's talk about some good news in the Land of Lincoln for a change.

Republican Bob Grogan, County Auditor of DuPage County, Illinois (The populous county just to the west of Chicago's Cook County), has launched an impressive transparency in government effort on the county website. Grogan had pledged recently to "provide the citizens and taxpayers of DuPage County with timely and pertinent information regarding the operations of DuPage County Government" and it looks like he is making good on his promise.

Only one month after starting his new, elected position, Grogan has launched a section of the website where county expenditure reports can be viewed by anyone. The reports are broken down in several ways; by department, vendor or individual project. Each report has a search feature and Grogan's office will be updating the reports monthly.

Grogan's is the first government office in the State of Illinois to launch such an on-line government transparency project and, here is the amazing part: he did it without spending a penny beyond the budget of his office. No massive funding, no outside vendors charging obscene fees were required. Grogan did it in a matter of months and within his established and approved budget.

Amazing, is it not?

Not only will this website where DuPage citizens can see what their county government is spending its budget upon facilitate a more transparent and legitimate government, but Grogan thinks it will actually save money.

    In addition to the openness the reports provide to taxpayers, Grogan said he believes it will cut back on Freedom of Information Act requests and save his office time dealing with those questions.

That is an interesting hidden benefit. FOIA requests certainly take time to fulfill and they cost government fistfulls of cash to pay for computer time and in hours spent by employees filling the requests. If this project cuts out some of that annoying (though certainly necessary) FOIA request work, well that would be a hidden benefit. You won't need to FOIA spending reports when you can just flip on your computer and see all you want. Not to mention that those interested in these sorts of reports won't have the frustration of the often time months long process to fulfill an FOIA request.

At this point Republican Bob Grogan's effort is a model for counties all across the country. Let's hope the rest are paying attention.

And can I point out again that this is an effort led by a Republican? Just wondering if you are paying attention Governor Blagojevich?

© Warner Todd Huston


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Warner Todd Huston

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