Smith County: Cost-Effective Transparency
Smith County has an aggressive program to provide county financial information to the public, and has posted its budget and financial reports online for several years. Since January 2009, the county has posted its check register for its major operating funds as well.
To keep costs down, County Auditor employees convert financial documents into PDF format and post them on the county Web site. Other than staff time, the only cash outlay associated with the implementation was for custom programming. Affiliated Computer Systems (ACS), which provides the county's financial software, charged $900 to modify its official check register to exclude personal or confidential items. This saved both staff time and printing costs and allows for the posting of data in a timely manner.
The county publicized the availability of these financial data in a news release as well as on the home page of its Web site. County Auditor Ann Wilson says it is too soon to tell whether the transparency measures have saved any taxpayer money beyond staff and printing costs, but pointed out that the online budget is much more convenient and accessible than hard copies, giving citizens and employees alike the opportunity to familiarize themselves with county policies and issues.
Go to Smith County Financials.