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Secretary Of State Implements "Open Checkbook" Policy

by Schira Nelson

According to Dennis Richardson's August 2, 2017 newsletter, effective immediately everyone will be able to evaluate how agency divisions budget and spend every dollar. To that end, the Secretary of State's office will "post online our agency's 'checkbook' ledger - a detailed list of all expenditures."

The Open Checkbook Ledger is modeled after several other states, such as Ohio, who already post all state expenditures online with mid-month updates. Richardson contends that government spending data of "critical information is frequently obscured through inadequate detail and unnecessary delays before disclosure." He further contends that the "lack of transparency has contributed to the wasting of hundreds of million of your tax dollars on unnecessary and poorly run government projects."  He cites little to no facts or proof to back up these assertions.  

Here are some facts: Between 2015-2017, the Secretary of State invested $17,107 in technology in order to increase efficiency and save money long term for fewer face to face meetings. Conference room TVs, cameras and related equipment saves thousands of hours in traffic and thousands of dollars in transportation costs across Oregon's 36 counties of Secretary of State employees.

This is in stark contrast to other Secretary of State expenses where over $35,000 was spent for an intensive 2-day training for every employee in the Secretary of State's agency in order to improve services. The Secretary of State's agency paid for a very expensive consulting firm named Arbinger Institute who trains Fortune 500 companies, in order to attempt to have Oregon's Secretary of State agency become the "highest performing state agency in the country." 

Maybe the Secretary of State's department could have used the $17K investment for training and conferences at home. Instead they paid over $35K for very expensive training, Then, on top of that, the Secretary of State spent over another $21K for out of state travel to attend national seminars, trainings and association conferences. 

Dennis Richardson's priorities: $17K on tech updates and $56K on training and conferences.  It should have been the other way around in priorities: $17K in training and $55K in tech updates. It's too expensive for Dennis Richardson's "world class training" which he admits is expensive but insists it's an "excellent value for the money they spend."  He needs to reevaluate how he spends his $75 million dollar budget on elections, audits, archives and corporations divisions, tech improvements and trainings. We deserve to have a Secretary of State who is more responsible for our tax dollars than one who overspends for "world class training" and flying to out-of-state conferences.   

We agree, keep the "Open Checkbook Policy" so we can see what the Secretary of State's priorities truly are, and so we can keep Dennis Richardson from spending our tax dollars on "unnecessary and poorly run government projects."