The state’s searchable budget transparency website (www.fiscal.wa.gov) has a new feature: Washington’s “Vendor Checkbook.” This is the equivalent of the state’s checkbook. Here is how this new resource is described:
“The Vendor Checkbook is jointly maintained by the Office of Financial Management (OFM) and the Office of the Legislative Evaluation and Accountability Program Committee (LEAP).
The Vendor Checkbook information represents payments generated through Washington’s Agency Financial Reporting System (AFRS). Certain types of payments are excluded. These exclusions include (1) state employee salary and benefit data, which are available elsewhere on this site; (2) payments exempt from disclosure per state and federal law; and (3) revenue refunds. Information on payments for purchase card activity is limited to one line per spending type per payment. The data in AFRS do not include further detail. Additionally, the State has decided not to disclose payments to injured workers or retirees for the workers’ compensation and pension systems it administers. Travel payments are temporarily not disclosed.
While AFRS is the State’s principal payment system, some payments are generated through other agency systems which feed summary level payment information into AFRS. Agencies generating the majority of their payments outside of AFRS (and therefore not included in the vendor checkbook) include higher education institutions, the State Lottery, Employment Security Department, Department of Transportation, and the Department of Retirement Systems.
Each agency is responsible for the accuracy of its payment data. Payments are presented as originally entered and do not include subsequent corrections. Vendor checkbook data is available from December 15, 2011, onward and is updated monthly, following the monthly close of AFRS. Although OFM and LEAP make reasonable and appropriate efforts to maintain the timeliness of Vendor Checkbook information, the data presented have not been audited and may contain errors, omissions, or misstatements. Payment data are presented on a cash basis which may not reconcile to state expenditure data presented on a modified accrual basis elsewhere on this site.”
Users are able to search the data by agency or vendor.
Since the state’s searchable budget website was created in 2008 based on our recommendation we’ve been working with OFM and LEAP to add the vendor database. Last summer state employee compensation was added to the website in a searchable format.
One additional feature that would be worth adding to the website in the future is the ability to access state contracts by agency. Summary contract data is currently available here. State labor contracts are available here.
[Reprinted from the Washington Policy Center blog]