From an article on GOUPSTATE.COM:
South Carolina's local governments should report their spending online
Other local governments in the Upstate should follow the example of Anderson County, which put its checkbook register online this month.
Taxpayers who wonder how Anderson County is spending their money can go to andersoncountysc.org and see. They can look at all the checks the county writes from its accounts payable account. They can see the amounts and the payees.
Voters who wonder about the performance of their elected officials in that county can examine where the money goes. When they hear a rumor that a county councilman has arranged for the county to hire his nephew's lawn maintenance business at overpriced rates, they can check the register to see whether it's true.
Anderson County officials said it wasn't particularly difficult for them to put their checkbook on their Web site. Once they decided to do it, it took a couple of days to upload the files, and their constituents had the enhanced ability to be informed.
It's an extra level of government transparency that would be welcome across the state.
S.C. Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom has been urging local governments to put their check registers on the Web. He has had good response since he put state agency checkbooks on his Web site, and he has offered assistance to local governments that need it.
Because local government spending isn't done through the same computer systems as state spending, the online information isn't as easily searched and surfed as the state checkbooks are, but the information is still useful.
Some local officials may wonder about the repercussions of revealing this much public information to the public. They may wonder whether they'll have to answer too many questions from constituents or whether people will misunderstand the information.
These are not valid concerns. Questions from an informed public can only make government better, push officials and administrators to question spending traditions and force innovation.
And putting this level of information at the fingertips of all voters and taxpayers will build confidence in any local government. By making this information available, Anderson County has told its citizens that it has nothing to hide and is willing to let any and all of them examine the books at their leisure.
Even if citizens find something they don't like, any anger will be muted by the fact that the government was so open with them. Intense voter anger is generated when elected officials try to hide controversial spending items from the public.
Putting check registers online will lead to greater efficiency, accountability and public confidence in government. Anderson's example should be followed by every county, municipality and school district in the state.