Clear Priorities

Missouri's transparency portal reveals a high degree of details on state expenditures.

Spurred in part by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, data transparency has become a high priority for government, and the state of Missouri is no exception. 

The state provides public access to data through the Missouri Accountability Portal, or MAP. "The focus is to be held accountable by citizens and ourselves," said Tim Robyn, deputy CIO for Web presence for the state of Missouri. Speaking at a NASCIO conference panel earlier this week, Robyn said the average citizen can see that Missouri spends most of its money on social services and education.

The deputy CIO demonstrated the many ways to drill deep down into Missouri's finances using the site. For example, MAP allows several types of searches for viewing payment totals by state agencies for each fiscal year dating back to 2000 -- by category of goods or services, for instance, or by vendors and other recipients, such as employees.

Robyn cited the example of a vendor called Ann's Bra Shop, noting that citizens might wonder why the state has entries on the books for fiscal years 2007, 2008 and 2009 totaling more than $5,000. But click on the payments, and you can see that they went to the Department of Corrections to outfit female inmates with undergarments.

One unique feature of MAP is the ability to search by tax credits. Robyn demonstrated that you can find what tax credits Missouri granted to Arrowhead Stadium and Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs and Kansas City Royals, respectively. Both professional sports teams have benefited Missourians, he noted.

Missouri is trying to create jobs and promote tourism through tax credits for movie production. Search under "business recruitment" and then "film production company," for example, and you'll find an entry for a $4.1 million tax credit in 2009 for a project called "Up in the Air," which is a George Clooney movie slated for release in 2010. "Everyone go out and see it," Robyn suggests.

Oct 29 2009