Gibbons promises more info on state finances

Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons signed an order Tuesday aimed at ensuring more public access to the state budget, contracts and other financial data.

The goal is to give the public "the same information that I have," the governor said " although in responding to questions he said the budget information will be what the Legislature gets " and that excludes many details of agency spending requests submitted to the governor.

The information will be on the Internet, and will duplicate budget information already available on line. But Gibbons and his budget director, Andrew Clinger, said the format will be an easily searchable database that's user-friendly and not just a huge computer file that can be difficult to download and interpret.

The first phase of the project would cost about $78,000 and by next January would include the proposed state budget that Gibbons will submit to the 2009 Legislature.

By mid-2010, Gibbons said information on state grants and contracts and other information would be available.

Gibbons also said he hopes to include the state treasurer, controller, Legislature and court system in the process.

The order on "transparency and accountability" in government finances doesn't mention e-mail traffic. But Gibbons' legal counsel, Josh Hicks, said Gibbons' policy on e-mail is in line with a general state policy ensuring openness in e-mail traffic related to government business.

Asked about government contracts that might generate legal disputes between the state and some service provider, Gibbons said it would be "up to the courts to decide" how much information in such a dispute would be open to the public.

The proposed state budget in its current form has details on what a government agency has spent in a preceding budget cycle and what the governor wants to spend in the next cycle. There's only sketchy information on what a particular agency wants but may not have been able to convince the governor to include in the final document sent to lawmakers.

Questions on the details of an agency's "wish list" that's not part of the governor's budget typically get asked during lawmakers' hearings on the state budget.


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