Millions of dollars spent by five of Ohio’s 14 public four-year universities will soon be searchable in an online database, Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel announced Tuesday.
The presidents of Wright State University, Miami University, Central State University, Bowling Green State University and Ohio University all agreed to start posting their general budget spending to OhioCheckbook.com and they committed to eventually including spending done by the universities through affiliated foundations and non-profits.
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“Yes, our intention will be to be very transparent with every unit of the university and every affiliate of the university. Now, also, our foundation is an affiliated unit so we’ll have to look at how we can do that, work with our foundation,” said Wright State President David Hopkins. “But yes we plan to be transparent, completely transparent with all of the entities related to Wright State. I think it’s important for us to do that because when the public can see the facts themselves and not always have them interpreted by other people, they’ll be able to understand exactly how the money was spent and the value for that money spent for themselves.”
In recent years, State University has released spending data related to the Wright State Applied Research Corporation but has chosen to keep secret expenditures by Double Bowler, a non-profit real estate development arm controlled by WSU leadership.
Since Mandel, a Republican, launched the checkbook project in December 2014 more than 530,000 searches have been conducted. Users can quickly search and sort through aggregate and granular data on $517 billion in state, school district and local spending. All told, there are 155.3 million transactions in the checkbook.
Mandel said he expects the five universities to set an example for the other nine four-year public universities as well as two-year community colleges to follow. Private data, such as student names, will be cloaked, he said.
Bruce Johnson of the Inter-University Council said total annual spending by the 14 four-year public universities in Ohio is about $10 billion.