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DuPage County puts 'checkbook' online
By Jake Griffin | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 1/14/2009 12:02 AM

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Only a month into his new gig, DuPage County Auditor Bob Grogan did something the county board has been attempting for years.

He posted the county's monthly expenditure reports online, essentially allowing the world to see its checkbook.

"I have a small staff of six people and now I'll have a million and six people looking over these reports," Grogan said. "In the long run I see this as something that is going to save me time and make me more efficient."

Visitors to the auditor's Web site can view the expenditures by department, vendor or project. Each report has a search feature and is updated each month. Grogan said he met no opposition when he discovered it took little effort to get the reports online.

"We just made sure there wasn't any private information in there," he said. "We did redact some information because it might contain personal data."

According to a state watchdog group, DuPage is the first county in the state to offer the feature.

"I remember being told we needed a whole new computer system to get all the data in position," county board member James Healy said. "I'm glad to see the auditor was able to do this. Hats off to Bob Grogan."

Healy said the expenditure reports are a perfect companion to the county's online budget packet.

Maybe more important, Grogan was able to do it with no additional cost or manpower because the database already was in place when he took the auditor's job in December. He said it takes staff about an hour or two each month to bring the reports up to date.

DuPage Democrats even were singing the praises of the Republican auditor's transparent government initiative.

"It's way overdue," said Bob Peickert, chairman of the county Democratic Party. "It's something we've been asking for and a step in the right direction."

In addition to the openness the reports provide to taxpayers, Grogan said he believes it will cut back on Freedom of Information Act requests and save his office time dealing with those questions.