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“Open The Books” Project Tip Sheet



Download a pdf copy of this “tip sheet”, here.

INITIATIVE:  Open the books on every dime taxed and spent by all 7,000 units of Illinois government.  Aggressive transparency of all public spending will create a “thousand eyes” of scrutiny.

Project Timeline:

  1. September 12, 2011: the salaries and pensions of virtually all Illinois public employees at every level of Illinois government went live in our transparency portal at www.openthebooks.com.
  2. December, 2011: our mobile APP iOpenTheBooks went live.  See the top salaries in your local area while searching a 5-50 mile radius.
  3. Spring, 2012: started process of collecting the checkbooks of 7,000 units of Illinois government.  First to post were the checkbooks from all 944 Illinois School Districts since 2006.
  4. April, 2012: Comptroller Judy Baar-Topinka rejected our Freedom of Information Act Request for State of Illinois checkbook and list of vendor spending. Attorney General Lisa Madigan sits silently on enforcement action.
  5. December, 2012: over a half trillion in Illinois spending from all levels of government loaded into our portal covering up to the last decade.
  6. End of 2012:  finished loading the Federal Government checkbook and four years of all Federal Employee salary history.  The federal checkbook alone contains 52 million transactions for $31 trillion in spending.

“Open The Books” Project completion: Once the State of Illinois checkbook is released we will be able to put much of the project on “autopilot,” simply renewing our Freedom of Information act requests and importing the latest data. From that point, we will continuously upgrade the quality, quantity, and look and feel of the website and app, adding functionality and ease of use. Citizens will be able to search all units and levels of Illinois government to see where and how their taxes are spent.

Most Important Stories (2011-2012) from Open The Books Portal:

200 private employees in State of Illinois pension plan: SB2499 introduced with Sen. Matt Murphy (R-Palatine); St. Louis Post Dispatch: Loophole Let’s Union Officials Claim Big Teacher Pensions.

Taxes for Taxi’s:  48 northern Illinois school districts spent majority of $50 million in taxi cabs since 2006.  Only 8 districts had a negotiated contract, the rest paid for expensive individual rides. State taxpayers reimbursed 80% of the costs.  Daily HeraldWhat Schools Spend on Taxi Cab Transportation.

Big Dogs Report:  Local Government Managers out-earning All GovernorsDaily Herald: Group Questions Grayslake Manager’s $259,000 Salary. Chicago Sun-Times: Law Firm Hired to Investigate Lyons Township School Treasurer Payout.

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