Contact: Mandi Merritt
August 12, 2016
(614) 995-1783

Treasurer Josh Mandel Announces Launch of the Whitehall City Schools Checkbook on OhioCheckbook.com
Momentum Grows for Statewide Government Transparency with Over 770 Local Government and School Districts Partnering with OhioCheckbook.com

WHITEHALL – Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel announced on Thursday the launch of the Whitehall City School District’s online checkbook on OhioCheckbook.com. In December 2014, Treasurer Mandel launched OhioCheckbook.com, which sets a new national standard for government transparency and for the first time in Ohio history puts all state spending information on the internet. OhioCheckbook.com recently earned Ohio the number one government transparency ranking in the country for a second year in a row.

The Ohio Treasurer’s office made the announcement at a Board of Education meeting Thursday night. Whitehall City Schools is the seventh school district in Franklin County to post their spending on OhioCheckbook.com. Whitehall City Schools’ online checkbook includes over 50,000 individual transactions that represent more than $163 million of total spending over the past three Fiscal Years.

“I believe the people of Franklin County have a right to know how their tax money is being spent, and I applaud local leaders here for partnering with my office to post the finances on OhioCheckbook.com,” said Treasurer Mandel. “By posting local government spending online, we are empowering taxpayers across Ohio to hold public officials accountable.”

“One of the objectives of our strategic plan Achieve 2020 is to increase awareness of District finances,” said Treasurer Steve McAfee. “OhioCheckbook.com provides a powerful tool to help us accomplish that objective. We're excited to join and provide transparency of finances to our public.”

“I applaud the Whitehall City School District for choosing to improve transparency and accountability by joining the Ohio Treasurer’s online checkbook program today,” said State Senator Kevin Bacon. “Whitehall School Treasurer Steve McAfee deserves credit for taking this major step to ensure that our children are receiving the best possible education and taxpayers are seeing the greatest return on their investment.”

On April 7, 2015 Treasurer Mandel sent a letter to 18,062 local government and school officials representing 3,962 local governments throughout the state calling on them to place their checkbook level data on OhioCheckbook.com and extending an invitation to partner with his office at no cost to local governments. These local governments include cities, counties, townships, schools, library districts and other special districts.

A large coalition of statewide and local government organizations have expressed support for OhioCheckbook.com and local government transparency, including:

· Ohio Municipal League
· Ohio Township Association
· Ohio Association of School Business Officials
· Buckeye Association of School Administrators
· County Commissioner Association of Ohio
· County Auditor Association of Ohio
· Ohio Newspaper Association
· Ohio Society of CPAs
· Buckeye Institute
· Common Cause Ohio

OhioCheckbook.com was launched on December 2, 2014, marking the first time in Ohio history when citizens could actually see every expenditure in state government. Since its launch, OhioCheckbook.com has received overwhelming support from newspapers and groups across the state and, as of August 9, 2016 there have been more than 594,000 total searches on the site.

OhioCheckbook.com displays more than $534 billion in spending over the past eight years, including more than 147 million transactions. The website includes cutting-edge features such as:

· “Google-style” contextual search capabilities, to allow users to sort by keyword, department, category or vendor;
· Fully dynamic interactive charts to drill down on state spending;
· Functionality to compare state spending year-over-year or among agencies; and,
· Capability to share charts or checks with social media networks, and direct contact for agency fiscal offices.

In March 2015, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) released their annual “Following the Money 2015” report and Treasurer Mandel earned Ohio the number one transparency ranking in the country for providing online access to government spending data. Ohio was prominently featured in the report after climbing from 46th to 1st in spending transparency as a result of Treasurer Mandel’s release of OhioCheckbook.com. Due to the launch of OhioCheckbook.com, Ohio received a perfect score of 100 points this year – the highest score in the history of the U.S. PIRG transparency rankings.

In April 2016, U.S. PIRG announced that Treasurer Mandel earned Ohio the number one government transparency ranking in the country for the second consecutive year in a row. Due to the launch of OhioCheckbook.com, Ohio again received the highest perfect score of 100 points this year – marking the second time in two years Ohio received the highest possible score in the history of the U.S. PIRG transparency rankings.

The Treasurer’s office is partnering with OpenGov, a leading Silicon Valley government technology company, to provide residents of Ohio the ability to view and search local government expenditures in a user-friendly, digital format. “Ohio is setting the standard for financial transparency on an unprecedented scale. We are excited to partner with the Treasurer’s office to bring world-class technology to communities large and small across the state,” said Zachary Bookman, CEO of OpenGov.

For more information or to view your local government website, visit the Local Government option on OhioCheckbook.com or click on WhitehallCitySchools.OhioCheckbook.com.

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