While occasions to do it are too rare, we are always delighted when Louisiana is near the top of the pack in something, and so the state’s Division of Administration deserves a pat on the back for its LaTrac website.
What is it? It is what is called a “checkbook” site, outlining in great detail the money that state government spends.
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group has graded Louisiana’s site as one of the best in the country, again.
Ironically, this A grade comes from a liberal group begun by anti-corporate crusader Ralph Nader, and the compliment is directed to the administration of Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is in policy terms about the antithesis of what Naderites would approve of. But we think that just underscores that transparency and financial responsibility are not liberal or conservative values in opposition to each other. All of us have an interest in honest and open spending of tax dollars.
LaTrac has been in operation for several years, and we commend the division, the state’s financial and management arm, for continuing to look at ways to improve it.
The user can search contracts and budgets, salaries and payments for employees and agencies. It’s a vast trove of information about how money is spent. There’s a report on the spending of the federal “stimulus” funds granted to the state during the Obama administration, because that had an impact on Louisiana’s budget.
There are links to state boards and commissions, although many of them are independent and may not necessarily report as much financial data as do agencies directly under the division’s financial purview.
Keeping such a website user-friendly should be a goal of state government in the years to come.
This year, U.S. PIRG said Ohio had done the best job, under Republican Treasurer Josh Mandel, of making his state’s spending transparent.
Every state ought to seek to be in the list of top states providing these online portals.
“It’s extremely important because you have a new set of eyes on this information, not just those of someone in government,” LaVita Tuff, a policy analyst at the nonprofit Sunlight Foundation, told stateline.org.
The latter is a website reporting on trends in state and local government.
Ohio, Louisiana and 12 other states got an A grade, up from eight the previous year, the stateline.org report said.
It’s a bit of good news, and officials in the Division of Administration should be pleased, as well as motivated to keep the site updated and make it more functional in coming years.