Over the past several years more and more citizens have pushed for an increase in the transparency of financial reporting of governments. As the economy has struggled, citizens have grown more concerned with how their tax dollars are being spent. The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) has long encouraged governments to demonstrate transparency by making financial information available to all citizens and other interested parties available on the government’s website.
There are many advantages for a government to place financial information on its website. The information can be provided to citizens in a low-cost manner and in a more efficient way. Concerned citizens can locate the information they desire easily online without the need to contact the government directly and the need to reproduce reports is eliminated, which is advantageous to both parties.
In placing the information on the government’s website, the government should ensure that the information is easy to locate and also that the information is contained in a format that is easy to read. Many governments have begun to place PDF versions of the bound financial reports directly onto their sites for citizens.
The simplest way that a government can respond to the increasing demand for financial transparency is to use their website as tool and place the financial information directly on their website where concerned citizens can access the information.
Jeffery Patterson, CPA, MBA