State officials hope a new website that details state spending can help West Virginia taxpayers see how their money is spent, and help the state pull up its grades in online transparency.
State Auditor Glen Gainer and Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin, who is acting as governor, unveiled the website, www.TransparencyWV.org, at a Capitol news conference on Wednesday.
Gainer, whose staff developed the site, said the project was spurred by a failing grade that West Virginia received in March on a transparency scorecard designed by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a national, non-partisan watchdog group.
"We're hoping that it provides an easily understood, high level of detail of how state government is operating from a fiscal standpoint," Gainer told the Gazette.
The website is divided into three main sections: state revenue collections, the budget, and spending. People will be able to find and download information on each state agency's spending.
The auditor's staff said they modeled the site after those of states that earned A's in the U.S. PIRG report, such as Texas.
West Virginia and nine other states failed the PIRG standards. The group said that the Mountain State lacked a "checkbook-level website" showing government expenditures.
U.S. PIRG did not look at VISTA, a database run by the auditor's office that discloses West Virginia's public employee compensation and payments to vendors, Gainer said. Instead, the group examined the state's Purchasing Division website, which contains state contracts.
Other state financial information, such as details of state tax credits and federal stimulus spending, was available online, but was scattered among different agencies' websites.
"In reality, a lot of this information we had [online]," Gainer said. "It just was not brought together on a single website."
The new site will give people "more centralized access" to state financial records, Tomblin said.