State Auditor Nicole Galloway today released an audit of the Missouri Accountability Portal, a state database that provides the public access to the state's financial transactions. The report recommended improvements to ensure information in the online database is displayed accurately and can easily be understood by the public.
"The Missouri Accountability Portal is designed to allow citizens to easily access public information about how their tax dollars are being used," Auditor Galloway said. "In order for this tool to be effective, citizens need to be able to easily access the information. This report outlines several improvements the administration can make to ensure data is accurate and usable."
The Missouri Accountability Portal was established by executive order in 2007 and then passed into law in 2009. It's primarily administered by the Office of Administration and includes information on state expenditures, state employee pay and federal grants. While the website received relatively high marks by outside entities when first launched, more recent reviews found the site lacked additional features available in other states.
The report found some information in the database is incomplete or inaccurate. For example, the portal does not include $743 million in expenditures reported as employee benefits. The audit recommended that the Office of Administration include a summary of this transaction data to better reflect the total costs to Missouri government.
Additionally, the portal does not list payments between state agencies. As a result, the actual agency expenditures are not accurately reported. Examples include postage, utility and telecommunications costs and information technology services.
Other recommendations in the report would increase the accessibility and usability of the site. The Office of Administration should evaluate ways to update the portal to address best practices and ways to transparently report open government data as outlined by a federal oversight agency. These improvements would help ensure citizens can access data that is complete, usable and functional.
A complete copy of the report is online here.