The state of Arkansas' online checkbook, which debuted July 1, didn't include institutions of higher education, but the state's flagship university is making its spending records accessible.
Last week, the University of Arkansas launched OpenUA, its expenditure transparency website, to provide online documentation of public expenses paid by all university offices, departments and divisions.
The university warns that there will be some redacted information in an effort to protect student privacy and to comply with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) exemptions and federal confidentiality requirements.
The information on the UA web site is derived from general led
ger accounting records and is “raw, unaudited and unconsolidated data,” which means it may not match up with budget documents or audited financial reports.
The Arkansas legislature passed Act 1163 during the 2011 session, requiring all state institutions of higher education to provide “expenditure data on a website operated by the state-supported institution” beginning with the 2013 fiscal year, and eventually showing at least 10 years of information. The law requires that the information “be updated on a regular basis.”
“This website fits very well into the U of A’s goals to provide transparency and accountability for the people of Arkansas, so we were happy to do it,” said Don Pederson, vice chancellor for finance and administration. “It required a very intensive effort by our staff and required a great number of person-hours to accomplish, but we believe the site is important and the effort was worthwhile.”
The OpenUA web site will be updated monthly, according to university officials.
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