COLUMBUS --The state budget office has launched a new website allowing access to an array of spending information compiled as part of Ohio's accounting system.
"Ohio's Interactive Budget," online at InteractiveBudget.Ohio.Gov, allows users to track how funds are collected and spent, from initial appropriations OK'd as part of biennial budgets to the final outlays sent to companies and individuals providing services.
A popular searches feature provides details of the highest paid companies, school funding, debt services payments and other information. Additional details can be found by agency, by category and by supplier or recipient, with a search function to pinpoint payments to specific companies or individuals.
John Charlton, a spokesman for the Office of Budget and Management, said the system has been in the works for several years. It cost $125,000-$150,000 to develop, and OBM will maintain the site moving forward.
"While the Office of Budget and Management has maintained the state's accounts for decades in accordance with state law, this is the first time that OBM has provided the public with direct access to the information contained in the state accounting system," Charlton said in a released statement. "/ This website enables visitors to see how state money is spent, how revenue is generated and allocated via the state budget. Ohio's Interactive Budget website -- an extension of the state accounting system -- provides the public with access to the financial and transactional data maintained in the state's accounting system."
The new OBM site follows the launch in late 2014 of Republican state Treasurer Josh Mandel's online checkbook, which enables searches of spending by state offices. Users of that site can search the site by individual or company name or agency for checks issued since fiscal 2008.
"We think it's great more public offices are getting involved with this transparency movement," Chris Berry, Mandel's spokesman, said in a released statement. "As we have said in the past, regardless of the ways that entities choose to shine sunlight on spending, we applaud them."