BATON ROUGE – Commissioner of Administration Angele Davis was joined today by LSU officials, faculty, staff, and students in the "SMART Lab" of Patrick F. Taylor Hall on LSU's Baton Rouge campus for an event to launch LaTrac, the state's new Transparency and Accountability Portal and Online State Spending Database.
The creation of the web portal was established by Governor Bobby Jindal in an executive order (BJ 2008-2) on his first full day in office, and authorized by legislation (Act 20) during the special legislative session on ethics reform.
LaTrac may be accessed through the Division of Administration's web page at www.doa.louisiana.gov, through Louisiana government’s main web portal at www.la.gov, or directly at http://wwwprd.doa.la.gov/latrac/index.cfm.
"This is an important event, an extraordinary step forward, and a historic reform initiative for Louisiana and its pursuit of better, more accountable government," said Davis. "Today we begin to empower four million citizen auditors to monitor what the state spends and to judge whether it's wise, necessary, and achieving results."
Though authorized earlier this year, Commissioner Davis emphasized the added importance of launching the web site in a time of national economic uncertainty and predictions of an upcoming state budget shortfall.
"If revenue projections are true, state government has some belt-tightening to do. We need the help of informed citizens looking at our expenditures and being a part of the process of budget savings," Davis said.
LaTrac represents leadership in government transparency by making Louisiana:
- One of eight states to have online expenditures
- One of two states to include higher education
- Only state where the transparency website is established by both executive order and legislative statute; and
- Only state to link online expenditures to performance measures
"With the launch of this web portal, Louisiana will now lead the nation in government transparency. By improving performance indicators, providing that information to the public, and tying spending to performance, Louisiana will also lead the way in government accountability," Davis said.
Commissioner Davis outlined the following goals for LaTrac:
- Foster openness in government
- Provide taxpayers user-friendly "financial statement" of how their money is spent
- Increase accountability
- Reduce potential waste, fraud, abuse, and conflicts of interest
- Increase efficiency and effectiveness of government programs and services
- Strengthen link between expenditure and performance
- Educate citizens and build trust through transparency
- Reduce wasteful or unnecessary spending
"The people of Louisiana, and businesses considering locating here, need to know there’s a level playing field, and that the people who hold the purse strings and sign the state contracts are not conflicted by personal financial motivations," said Davis. "It is not by accident that, across the globe and throughout history, the most successful economies are those that flourish under the most open and transparent governments."
- Allows citizens to drill down to see every expenditure to date during current year, and previous year totals
- The detailed expenditure item will have the amount spent and vendor information
- Analytical tools allow sorting by category alphabetically (departments, agencies or vendor) or by amount
- The website also features bar and pie charts of the expenditure and expenditure categories
- Citizens searching expenditures by department can also click to open a link to that department’s performance measures
- Lists cabinet and appointed position salary information
Though launched two months ahead of schedule, Commissioner Davis stressed that LaTrac is not a "finished product" and will be continually upgraded and enhanced with new capabilities and the acquisition of technological means to capture more data.
Short-term improvements include:
- Adding agencies not on the state accounting system to the database (DOTD and all of Higher Education)
- Automating the data transmission and update process
Long-term improvements include:
- Sorting and searching by vendor
- A separate Budget tracking system
- When LaGov (ERP) becomes active, detailed purchasing information (exactly what was purchased)
- Downloadable database
- Online Lacarte Purchase Card information