Today, State Rep. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) filed House Bill 640 to require all state agencies to post a list of their expenditures online. The bill states:

hughesEach state agency that maintains a generally accessible Internet site or for which a generally accessible Internet site is maintained shall post on the site all expenditures made by the agency. The posting must include the purpose for which each expenditure is made.

We applaud Rep. Hughes for filing this legislation, which was also part of Governor Rick Perry’s budget reform proposal. It is also important that each agency categorize and post expenditures in one, easy-to-understand format. Comptroller Susan Combs has expressed interest in working with the various state agencies to bring about a day when all agencies use the same codes to classify expenditures. This will foster efficiencies in administering and auditing programs that involve multiple state agencies.

Indeed, as this bill goes forward, legislators should consider amending it to specify that the each agency shall provide this information to the Comptroller and the Comptroller shall post it in a common format. This would be easier for the public since there are hundreds of agencies and would likely save every agency the time and resources involved with creating this functionality on their own website.

U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) successfully led an effort to create such a federal database. U.S. Senate Bill 2590 passed and signed into law late last year created this database for federal spending, which is now under construction.