Is New Jersey Transparent About Government Spending? [AUDIO]
A New Jersey watchdog group is out with a new report that gives the State a grade of "C" when it comes to transparency of government spending.
The report, prepared by the New Jersey Public Interest Research Groups Law and Policy Center, says state governments across the country have become more transparent about where public money goes, but Jersey has been treading water over the past year.
"New Jersey has added checkbook level detail to its transparency website, so you can get spending information on things like contracts and other tax expenditures, but the area where New Jersey falls a little short, is the kind of searchability of that information," says NJ PIRG State Director Jen Kim.
She points out the yourmoney.nj.gov website has come a long way over the past few years, but more needs to be done to give the public more access to details about spending, because having open, public information is really crucial. It's good for a democracy and it's good for holding government accountable.
"Especially with New Jersey facing budget problems year after year," she says. "We should be able to follow where our money is going and how it's being spent."
A spokesman for the New Jersey Treasury Department released a statement to Townsquare Media.
"While we continue to enhance transparency by making more information about government available to the public through more access points, most recently by launching a new webpage earlier this month on the State Comptroller's website that details all contracts and funding related to Sandy recovery efforts, delivering specific types of data in the formats that NJPIRG or other reviewers are advocating can present technical challenges because of the limits of the state's current computer systems and databases. And overcoming those challenges would often require large-scale IT upgrades."