[15] Transparency of Governmental Financial Dealings

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New York City and New York State spend many billions of dollars each year, without accountability. The expenditures are not posted on a website for citizens to review and any effort to obtain specific information is generally met with reluctance if not obstruction. Having to file a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act is no answer to the press and public who want immediate answers, not answers that are months and many dollars away from the present. The solution to this is to require all New York state and local governmental agencies to put all of their financial dealings into a searchable website, to enable you, me or anyone else to search for check number, dollar amount, date of check, payor (name of governmental entity making the payment), payee, including the payee's address, the name of the person authorizing payment; and the line number or other identification of the part of the budget authorizing the payment.

If this were to take place, you and I could go to the agency's website and see who is getting money from the government, how much, when, and for what reason, and who authorized the payment. This would facilitate competition, to encourage other persons to seek to sell their goods or services to the agency; it would enable the press and others to find any fault in the payment of that amount to such person, or the payment of any moneys at all to such person.

Putting a light on all payments by a government, whether made by check, goods, I.O.U. or other means (wire transfer, for example), would probably eliminate a lot of fraud currently occurring without detection. If there are rules for entering into contracts between a government and others, these rules often are not followed, and there is no ability of interested citizen groups to determine if the rules are being followed, because the payment records are not made public.

By making all payment records public, including payments of salaries and benefits, I should add, we can have more assurance that the governmental spending is taking place without fraud, and is for the public benefit.

It would also dispel the fear of many citizens that government has become a private bank account for favored friends of the persons controlling the government. If this is NOT true, the government should want to have its finances revealed for all to see.

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