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Hey, Arlington County: Show Us the Money!

Arlington County officials, whether elected or senior bureaucrats, are forever telling citizens that Arlington is a "world-class community." Assertions to that affect show up in press releases and the introductory pages of most government documents.


Wouldn’t you think that a world-class community would have a world-class accounting system that provides citizens with online access to where our tax dollars are going? While such documents as proposed budgets, approved budgets, annual financial statements, etc. (both county and school district) are shiny and spiffy and win awards, both the county and the school district have a ways to go before they are in the category of “Google Government.”


Those thoughts came to mind after reading the latest study published by the National Taxpayers Union (press release and study in Adobe format). The press release for the study, prepared by Christopher Biggs and Kristina Rasmussen, notes:

more than 20 states have either constructed or are considering implementation of searchable online grant and contract databases – but there are large differences in their quality.”

Rasmussen and Biggs concluded: 

“No state has fully emulated the federal concept of a single searchable grant and contract database, but government leaders are gradually picking up on the need for more public transparency when it comes to tracking – and evaluating – the spending of tax dollars . . . “Hopefully this pro-taxpayer trend will accelerate this year.” 

And we look forward to the day when Arlington County adopts “Google Government” so Arlington taxpayers can see precisely how our tax dollars are being spent. With a total budget that spends over $5,000 per person, there is a lot of looking that citizens can do.


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