CHICAGO — Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka has launched a new database to make local governments' financial information and records more easily accessible to the public.
Topinka on Monday unveiled the Warehouse database on the comptroller's website. It's a comprehensive online database that will house tens of thousands of records for taxpayer review with a search mechanism that allows users to search records by type of report or unit of government.
When users go to a specific government, they will find a snapshot of its finances, annual financial reports, and audits. The user can also easily compare various government data. The office collects financial reports from 5,200 local counties, municipalities, and special taxing districts in the state.
"This user-friendly database allows taxpayers to scour our office 'Warehouse' from wherever they are located," Topinka said in a statement. "There is no reason that residents should have to file Freedom of Information requests or sort through mountains of paper to see how their money is being spent. That information should be at their fingertips, and that's what the Warehouse accomplishes."
Topinka had previously launched the Ledger, which offers users of the comptroller's website immediate access to the daily log of state bills.
Topinka, a Republican, is seeking re-election to her post next year.
A Democratic challenger has accused the comptroller's office of failing to do more to prevent local government fraud and called on the office to expand its oversight. Topinka has said her office has a limited role and is not responsible for uncovering fraud or misspending when local governments submit required audits or financial reports that don't raise red flags. She has said recent measures like establishing the Warehouse and Ledger will aid the public in its scrutiny of local government finances.