FAQ

FAQ

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What is OhioCheckbook.com?

Launched in 2014 as a first-of-its-kind government transparency website, OhioCheckbook.com  shows taxpayers exactly how their tax money is being spent.  The initiative has set a new national standard for transparency in state and local government and helped Ohio to earn the U.S. Public Interest Research Group’s number one transparency ranking in the country for providing online access to government spending data (2015 and 2016).



What is the Treasurer's Transparency Project?

The Treasurer’s Transparency Project aims to make government more open and accountable to taxpayers by allowing Ohioans to follow their tax dollars and make more informed decisions on state spending. In addition to OhioCheckbook.com, the Treasurer's office has also put online a Government Employee Salary Database, Interactive State Property Map, County Investment Reports, and the Daily Ledger Report of State Funds.



Where does the checkbook expenditure data come from?

State spending data comes from the Ohio Administrative Knowledge System (OAKS), which is the state’s accounting system.  Local government and school data is provided by participating local governments and schools.



How often is the checkbook expenditure data updated?

State spending posted on OhioCheckbook.com is updated monthly.  Local checkbooks are updated as frequently as the local jurisdiction chooses. 



What can I do with the information I find on OhioCheckbook.com?

If you find something interesting that you want to share or inquire more about, you can click the "Share" button while viewing any table or graph to share on your Facebook or Twitter accounts or to send an email.  Each transaction also has contact information for the corresponding agency that made the expenditure should you want to request additional information directly from that agency.

Why were FY2008 – 2014 removed from the checkbook graphics? 


In Fiscal Year 2015, State Accounting reorganized expense codes and their descriptions for state spending by eliminating and consolidating hundreds of expense codes ("Expense Codes" are the most detailed spending descriptions on OhioCheckbook.com, "Expense Categories" and "Expenses Types" remain unchanged).  As a result, the 888 “Expense Codes” displayed on OhioCheckbook.com for FY2014 data have been reduced to 433 “Expense Codes” for FY2015 data.  These changes resulted in additional monthly processing and administration costs in order to tie them together and present in the Ohio Checkbook format.  The decision was made to reduce the cost by removing the FY2008 – 2014 data from the graphic checkbook information.  It is important to note that the detailed information from FY2008 – 2014 is still available on the Ohio Checkbook in downloadable formats that can be accessed via links found on the homepage. 


Does the state use credit cards?  Are those purchases found on OhioCheckbook.com?

Yes.  A number of agencies utilize state credit cards for some purchases and those purchases are included in the online checkbook.

Why does some expenditure data list the vendor as "Contact Agency for more information"?
Some expenditure data may be considered private, confidential, or protected under state or federal law. Information appearing to be private, confidential, or protected by law may not be displayed.  For such expenditures, you may contact the agency for more information, but please be advised that the Agency may be prohibited from releasing additional information.

 

What does it mean when "Agency Journal" is listed as the payee?

An "Agency Journal" is either the sum of all payroll expenses for a pay period or an Agency correcting accounting chart fields that do not affect a particular vendor.



What is the difference between an Expense Category, Expense Type and Expense Code?

You can narrow your spending search by selecting the type of expense being made. Select from the Expense Category (the broadest spending description), followed by Expense Type, and then Expense Code (the most specific spending description).  For example, Category: Equipment >> Type: Construction Equipment >> Code: Bulldozers.



What is the Compare tool?

The Compare tool allows you to compare spending of other agencies, other expense categories or certain expenses over a period of time. Be sure to click on the "Year-to-Year" button on any graph to see historical spending dating back to FY2015.


What do the "$", "%" and "Vs. Average" buttons do when I am looking at Compare results?

When viewing Compare results, the "$" button displays expenditure data in dollars spent. For example, the Department of Transportation spent just under $25 million on motor vehicles in FY2018.

The "%" button displays the selected expenditures as a percentage of total expenditures made for an entire fiscal year. For example, the Department of Transportation spent approximately .78% of all its FY2018 expenditures on motor vehicles.

The "Vs. Average" button is the average state expenditures of the selected Compare items for an entire fiscal year. For example, in FY2018 the average state agency spent $347,613 or 0.072% of its total spending on motor vehicles.



What is the difference between a Voucher ID and a Check Number?

A Voucher ID number is an agency-specific eight digit number that records an authorized transaction with a vendor. There may be multiple invoices (vouchers) grouped into a single vendor payment (check). In these instances, such information is provided to you when you are looking at the check image of a single transaction on the online checkbook.



Why do I only see a partial list of expenditures on some of my searches?

For some searches, the number of results may be too large to display in full.  In those instances, the online checkbook will display a random sample of 1,000 expenditures for viewing. At any point, you can click on the "Export" button to download the full list of expenditures.



I found a negative value for an amount paid.  How is that possible?

A negative value would reflect a revenue source to the selected agency, most likely a returned payment or accounting correction reflecting a revenue source



Can I export the expenditure data into a spreadsheet?

Yes. All data contained in the online checkbook may be exported in a .csv file by clicking the "Export" button found above all data tables.



Can I download expenditure data in Microsoft Excel?

Yes. Depending on the version of the software, however, some rows of information may not appear. For example, Excel 2010 will display no more than 1,048,576 rows of information.



Why does my Excel download not list the date of each transaction?

If the file is opened in Excel, the "Transaction Date" rows may not appear to be populated. Simply highlight the column, click on "Format Cells" and select a date format.  This will allow you to view all transaction dates.



Can I do a bulk download of a year's worth of expenditures?

Yes. You can download an entire year's worth of expenditure data by clicking on the "View By" button below the pie chart on the main page and then "View Transactions" and "Export Transactions".


What web browser should I use to best view OhioCheckbook.com?

OhioCheckbook.com is most compatible with Internet Explorer (version 9 or higher), Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome.



I received a tax refund from the state, is my name listed on OhioCheckbook.com?

No.  The only individual names that may appear in OhioCheckbook.com are state employees and individuals who are classified as state vendors.



Is there any state spending that is not found on OhioCheckbook.com?

All state spending that is appropriated into a fund by the General Assembly is contained in OhioCheckbook.com.

 

Where can I find expenditure information on the state's economic development programs?

The online checkbook includes expenditures made for economic development. You can start your search by viewing the "Subsidies and Shared Revenue" Expense Category or clicking on the Popular Searches button and then "Development."

If you would like more information about the projected public benefit, actual public benefit, and funds recouped through clawback clauses of many of the programs, click the "Reports" button on the right panel on the homepage.



Is there an OhioCheckbook.com mobile app?

Yes. Click OhioCheckbook mobile app‚Äč to download the mobile app for smartphones and tablets. 



Are local governments and schools on OhioCheckbook.com?

Yes, you can view all local governments and schools that have partnered with OhioCheckbook.com by clicking on the "Local Gov & Schools" tab in the upper right-hand corner of the page.



Who do I contact if I have a question about the data on OhioCheckbook.com?


Call the Ohio Treasurer's office at 1-800-228-1102 or click here.

 

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