Burnet County: Efficient and Effective
Burnet County has offered its taxpayers convenient, online access to its financial information for the past several years. People can view the annual budget, Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) monthly expenditures and check register on the county's website.
The county's longstanding commitment to transparency recently earned it a Comptroller's Leadership Circle Gold designation, the highest standard for transparency.
Accessibility to information is only part of the county's success. To keep costs down, the county auditor's office maintains the website with the assistance of an information technology administrator. The county incurred initial costs from designing a website that would make it easy for employees to post transparency items.
“The way the county updates the online information is very efficient and effective and can be updated on a monthly or annual basis as needed,” says Joan Fisher, Burnet County auditor.
Posting the budget and CAFR online means the county prints fewer copies of the documents for internal departments and external requests. When someone requests information, they are referred to the website link first. The online budget is much more convenient and accessible than hard copies for both citizens and employees. The county publicizes the availability of these financial data on its website and in the newspaper after it is posted to the website.
“Transparency has saved taxpayer dollars by saving time not producing masses of books using copying machines, paper, binding materials, postage, maintenance, repairs and overtime creating all the budget books and CAFRs,” says Fisher. “Most of our outside vendors want the budget and CAFR in this format, rather than receiving a hard copy that they must store as a requirement.”
Tips for Transparency Success
- Gain the support of county leadership.
- Maintain an adequate information technology department.
- Provide appropriate training to employees who will be developing documents and maintaining the website.