Transparency reduces fraud, saves money

Published: Saturday, May 18, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

I applaud resident Carol Fisher for requesting the city of Dixon commit to being more transparent online.

But it shouldn’t cost local taxpayers $40,000 to create an additional transparency advocate position to get it done.

Every public official should already be a transparency advocate. All elected officials have a duty to the public to be forthright about how they spend taxpayer dollars. Transparency should already be their highest priority.   

After the Rita Crundwell scandal, the city of Dixon pledged to adopt the Illinois Policy Institute’s 10-Point Transparency Checklist, but has failed to do so completely.

There is no good reason for this failure. Each and every one of the public officials already employed by the taxpayers of Dixon should be assuming the role of transparency advocate.

The most common objection by public officials to online transparency is cost. But in reality, online transparency can reduce costs and makes sharing public information more efficient. New technology allows governments to eliminate some printing and postage costs and allows them to transmit information much cheaper.

Additionally, online transparency is one of the citizens’ best tools to deter and expose public corruption, which saves taxpayer money. After losing nearly $54 million to public corruption, the city of Dixon knows this better than anyone else.

As local state Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, recently said: “Online transparency adds a layer of security to help prevent public corruption. When the information is online, anyone can have access to it.”

Supporters of online transparency like Carol should be getting more for the government they are already paying for.

An additional paid position is not needed, because the people who can implement online transparency in Dixon are already on staff.

Note to readers – Brian Costin is director of Government Reform for the Illinois Policy Institute.

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