What is an online checkbook? A free and publicly searchable Web site with information telling who does business with the state. This is a concept that Sen. Bill Wielechowski is offering in the form of a state statute. It's a good idea and one that Gov. Sarah Palin has already recognized and begun to implement. Palin proposed, and the Legislature approved, a $41 million line of credit in the last session to replace the state's 25-year old accounting system.
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Palin understands that Alaskans want access to their government. The first step in addressing the crisis of the antiquated accounting system was to make sure data could be stored so that no information would be lost in future replacements. That piece is being accomplished with the new internal reporting system called "Alaska Data Enterprise Reporting." This system also makes it easier for state employees to retrieve information in order to answer business questions and respond to public requests for information.
The next phase we can accomplish, while we work through the logistics of a new financial system, is to place the state's checkbook online. This initiative has been under development since it was requested by Palin in mid-October, and the information will be available about Jan. 30 on the Department of Administration Web site (www.state.ak.us/local/akpages/ADMIN/), and the Division of Finance site at (fin.admin.state.ak.us/dof/main/index.jsp).
The initial posting will contain payment information for the current fiscal year and will be updated quarterly. The data will be posted in spreadsheets which can be easily searched, sorted, or filtered for specific views of the information. Each of these steps brings us closer to Alaskans having the ability to search for information for themselves at their leisure.
Web sites containing information about government payments are a growing national trend. I agree with the expectation to have more transparent and open government by making the information available in the best form we can for Alaskans. The steps taken so far are evidence of our efforts to get information out to the public.
I'm glad Wielechowski is concerned about this issue and thank him and every other legislator for supporting the appropriation to begin the replacement of our aging legacy payroll and accounting systems. We will continue to do our part to provide Alaskans with easily accessible information about their government.
Commissioner of the Department of Administration