Later this spring, Wisconsin will open its checkbook to anyone who wants to look. The records will be available online through a project called "Open Book Wisconsin."
"Open Book" is two years in the making, promised by Governor Walker as a way to make state government transparent. Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch says there's a lot of information from all state agencies to enter. He says they're about ready to launch.
"We're basically putting the state's checkbook on the Internet. The power of this particular program will be to provide information to any taxpayer who wants to sit in front of their computer, unlike anything even a governor has had ever before."
"Open Book" will give Internet access to anything the state spends, although it will be a work in progress. Huebsch says they've been giving it a test run, just in case it comes back to bite them.
"[I'm] not afraid: I'm certain it will! (laughs) I'm certain at time it will come back. There are companies that come up where we are spending money with Joe's Liquor Store. What we didn't know until we looked into it is that Joe's Liquor Store is actually the local BP station and it's doing business as Joe's Liquor Store. So while we may be purchasing gas at the BP station, we're actually writing the check to Joe's Liquor Store."
Huebsch says this will be a first-of-its-kind website in the country. State employee salaries and fringe benefits will be added in the coming months. A few names will be kept off to protect certain people, such as undercover law enforcement agents or victims of domestic abuse.
Updated 3/19: The original version of this story had Open Book Wisconsin going live "this week" — we have since been told the project will go live sometime later this spring.