The state’s Open Books site today added another feature: a searchable tab for agency credit card transactions, called “p-cards” by the state. The addition is part of House Bill 1032, which required posting of the transactions.
SECTION 3. NEW LAW A new section of law to be codified in the Oklahoma Statutes as Section 85.33B of Title 74, unless there is created a duplication in numbering, reads as follows:
A. On a monthly basis the Director of Central Purchasing shall provide to the Office of State Finance a complete listing in electronic format of all transactions occurring with the aid of a state purchase card. The list shall contain the name of the purchaser and purchasing agency, amount of purchase, and all available descriptions of items purchased.
B. Upon receipt of the list described in subsection A of this section, the Office of State Finance shall allow the public access to the list in searchable format through its website defined in Section 46 of Title 62 of the Oklahoma Statutes.
But there’s a catch. It doesn’t appear that any Higher Education transactions are on there. Here’s what you get when you look for the University of Oklahoma:
The Department of Central Services handles training and auditing of the p-cards for all state agencies except Higher Education. But each university system has its own p-card contract. (OU, OSU, UCO/Regional University System, etc.) For whatever reason, the universities were not required to post their p-card data online.
The Open Books site has p-card transactions going back to the beginning of the state’s 2010 fiscal year. It includes information from the three levels of p-cards used by state employees: purchases under statewide contracts; travel cards; and general p-card transactions.
While the Department of Central Services has general oversight of the p-card program, the transactions themselves are approved at the agency level. So any questions about spending should be directed to the agencies.
Some words of caution: The details on individual transactions are not always clear. For example, here’s one I picked at random, which has some garbled information in the Description field (click for a close-up):
While this is a step forward for taxpayer transparency, I have a couple of suggestions:
1. Downloadable bulk data of the p-card transactions in a standard format (.csv, text file, .xml) to enable further analysis.
2. University p-card information. After all, Higher Education consumes 17 percent of the state budget. Don’t taxpayers deserve to know how that money is spent, too?
Written by Paul Monies