Thursday, February 14, 2008

What is the administration hiding, waste? fraud? favors?

A couple of weeks ago, Attorney General Mike Cox announced his office would be putting their financial activities online for easy review by taxpayers.  The governor's office said they have already done this.  Really?

Real Government Transparency: Does Michigan have it?

Attorney General Mike Cox should be commended for his leadership in putting his department's expenditures online for all taxpayers to review. He even has a "hot button" on his web page where you can "track your taxes", and find out how he is spending your money in his department. You can read his press release here.
Consumer Advocate Ralph Nader who joined the press conference via phone said it best: "I applaud AG Cox for taking this important first step of making government operations more transparent. I hope the governor follows his example and makes the full text of all Michigan state contracts available to the public via the Internet."
The governor made it all political with her response. "It sounds like just another PR stunt from these three," Granholm spokeswoman Liz Boyd said of Cox, House Minority Leader Craig DeRoche, R-Novi, and Rep. Jack Hoogendyk, R-Kalamazoo. "They are late to the game. The governor long ago ordered all state contracting information to be available online, and it is."
Tell that to Rory Mattson from Escanaba. He tried through the freedom of information act to get some disclosure from the DEQ and the DNR. They would not come forward with the information until he paid over $15,000 for "copying fees". Six months after he submitted the check, he was still waiting for the information.
Tell that to taxpayers who want to know where their dollars are going for information technology. When the Department of Technology was awarded a $5 million contract to upgrade the Child Support Enforcement System, they ran the cost up to over $200 million. When my office asked for information, they responded that they didn't have the information. (In the last three weeks of the contract, there was a "change order" approved by a bureaucrat for $10 million with no explanation. When I asked them for the detail, they sent me a letter and and told me, "we don't have it, it doesn't exist.")
Come on governor! Several other states and the federal government have implemented transparency in government; they put the entire checkbook online.  Why won't you?

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