State rolls out Open Checkbook

$1.8m effort to open payroll, spending records to public

Massachusetts officials today unveiled a new $1.8 million website that allows the public to review and ask questions about most government expenditures, including payments to vendors and the salaries and pensions of state workers.

Jay Gonzalez, the state secretary of administration and finance, said the website takes Massachusetts from being one of the least transparent states in the nation in terms of finances to one of the most transparent. “It is about rebuilding trust in government,” he said.

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Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

The new website allows users to track state expenditures in real time and ask questions about them. The questions will be fielded by state employees who will take turns handling them. The website was scheduled to launch at 2 p.m. today, but did not go live until much later.

Treasurer Steven Grossman, who campaigned on a pledge to make government spending more open to the public, said the website includes most data from the state’s accounting system but emphasized that more will be added over time. He noted that many quasi-public authorities, such as the Massachusetts Port Authority and the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, as well the MBTA and municipalities are not on the state’s accounting system and therefore are not included yet.

“We’re not everywhere we want to be,” Grossman said. “There will be a 2.0 and 3.0 to come.”