Keep Openness As a Top Priority
When state officials launched a new website, www.wvtransparency.org, in September 2011, they were praised, and deservedly so. The site marked a quantum leap in openness about how taxpayers’ money is spent in West Virginia.
Now it is history. Visitors to the site see a notice that feeds of information to it from state agencies have been suspended. The site remains in operation only “for historical purposes.”
The interruption occurred because state government is making a major change in how it handles data electronically. Officials say that eventually, that will result in an even better transparency website.
In its old form, the site was impressive. It provided an incredible amount of detailed information on state spending. It was searchable, meaning users could enter the name of a person or company and learn how much the state had paid out under that name.
Previously, such information could be obtained only by reviewing paper records, sometimes through time-consuming searches.
Officials say that once the work of upgrading the site is complete, it will offer all that information and much more. For example, users will be able to find out precisely what was obtained and at what cost under specific purchase orders.
If that happens, Mountain State residents will have every reason to be pleased with the change. But simply because of the quality of the old website, delays in getting the new one operational and any glitches in using it will not be pleasing to West Virginians who have become accustomed to transparency. For that reason, state officials should make the new site one of their top priorities in the major data processing changeover.