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Lifting the veil of secrecy

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Most people have probably heard of those secretive government money accounts known as revolving accounts or carryover funds. These funds contain either excess money not initially needed by the government or funds from sources that do not originate from legislative appropriations. Since these funds are not subject to legislative appropriations, they aren’t readily available for legislative oversight.

State Represenstative Jason Murphey

State Represenstative Jason Murphey

Many state government entities have revolving funds, but attempting to quantify or understand them has historically been out of reach of most members of the public and even many policy makers such as legislators.

I became personally involved in this issue when I spoke about transparency at the annual Freedom of Information Oklahoma Sunshine Week Conference where a member of the press asked about these revolving accounts and making them transparent. I indicated a willingness to do what I could to provide the means for oversight and subsequently sponsored the proposal to place a detailed listing of all state revolving funds and the amount contained in each fund, to be updated on a monthly basis, through the data transparency portal, data.ok.gov.

Oklahoma’s Office of Management and Enterprise Services, the state agency in charge of carrying out this transparency mandate, has followed through with carrying out the intent of our proposal and the revolving fund data sets are now online.

As the Legislature prepares for the next session, our budget chairmen will have direct access to a complete listing of all 1,102 revolving funds, the amount of money in the fund and the statutory authorization for the fund. Because these listings are updated on a monthly basis, the legislators can watch as state agencies tap into or direct money into these funds.

Better yet, all of this information is also available to the public.To view the current status of state revolving funds, simply navigate to data.ok.gov and search for the term “revolving”. You can proceed to analyze the revolving fund data set of your choice.

Perhaps the viewer notices that a fund has been depleted and wants to know how the money has been spent. He can cross reference the specific expenditures by viewing the “vendor payments” data set which may also be found online at data.ok.gov.

The vendor payments data set lists outgoing payments made by the state and the fund from which the payments are made.

This new transparency reform represents just one more step towards making state government truly accountable to the public and is lifting the veil of secrecy which has for years hidden the presence of the hundreds of revolving funds.

Thank you for reading this article. Your interest and input are much appreciated. Please do not hesitate to email Jason.Murphey@hd31.org with your thoughts and suggestions.

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