Increased Government Transparency Comes with a Cost

(Photo via Pixabay)

According to a Bismarck Tribune report last week, North Dakota’s spending transparency website has recently been ranked 34th in the nation. As stated in the Tribune article:

“The website allows the public to peer into the state’s finances by examining spending by individual agencies, payments to vendors and purchasing card expenses, among other tools.”

It’s worth noting that while the state’s website was rated with “above-average functionality and searchability”, it has “deficiencies in its economic development subsidy reporting”. So, with an overall C-, there’s room for improvement.

On the heels of the Tribune article, it was reported yesterday that Morton County is adding itself to a list of local governments that are utilizing OpenGov. This is a cloud-based software that can be utilized to make the financial information of government entities available to the public via the internet. In a nutshell, it provides an increased level of transparency at the local level.

Cass County was the first county in the state to make the move to OpenGov in 2014. Since that time, McKenzie County, Fargo, and Grand Forks have done the same. Such transparency means easier accessibility for those who may be interested in such information. When it comes to finances, individuals no longer have to drive to these county or city offices, make phone calls, or send in record requests. They can just access the information they’re seeking through the internet.

Transparency comes with a price though. When it comes to the state’s system, the initial cost was $231,000— and that’s not including staff time. Annual cost to the state runs about $42,500. In the case of OpenGov – used by Morton County and others – it’s about $7,000/year.

Patrick Henry once said:

“The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.”

I agree. In and of itself, I believe that increased transparency creates an environment for better government. But perhaps the true value of it can only be measured by the involvement of the people and whether we utilize it or not. Otherwise, it’s money spent with little or nothing gained.





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About T. Arthur Mason 874 Articles
T. Arthur Mason is a native North Dakotan who has spent nearly all of his life in the Peace Garden State. As the third of four children in Western North Dakota, Mason grew to appreciate family and the outdoors. Some of his fondest memories are annual deer hunts with family and friends. In his early teenage years, faith became a central part of T. Arthur Mason's life. He and the majority of his family attend church together on a weekly basis and find this a fulfilling aspect of their lives. Through the influence of his father, T. Arthur Mason became intrigued with politics. As a boy, he attended political events with his father and enjoyed the friendships that resulted as a byproduct of those political associations. As Mason grew older, he became convinced that the quote often attributed to Thomas Jefferson was true, "That government is best which governs least." Today, T. Arthur Mason enjoys time with his wife and children, an occasional hunt, and an increasingly active life on the political scene. This blog is the fulfillment of a dream to design a web site in the realm of politics and to advocate for the principles of Liberty and constitutionally limited government. On behalf of all those that contribute to The Minuteman, we hope you enjoy your time on the site and will share the message with others.