Transparency is so important in South Carolina that no one noticed their state-wide spending website hadn’t been updated since October…
The South Carolina Spending Transparency website operated by the Comptroller General’s office provides the only detailed look into exactly how South Carolina spends the approximately 22 billion dollars it collects from its citizens each year1.
The website is not spectacular. Each page takes about seven seconds to load and the server it’s hosted on appears to be able to handle exactly one request at a time. The three-tiered, one month at a time, interface also makes it completely useless unless you already know exactly what you’re looking for and when it was done. Liberating this data and making it available for real analysis has become one of my recent projects.
Unfortunately that project had to be put on hold this week when I began to pull down data for November — there wasn’t any.
After quickly spot-checking several agencies for the subsequent months (or as quickly as I could, given the interface), I shot off an email to the Comptroller General’s office Sunday night. Eric Ward, the CG’s Public Information Officer, checked into it for me and found that it was due to “some kind of computer conversion they’re having trouble with.”
He says they expect to have it resolved and the data updated in the near future, but I’m left wondering how this could happen. It seems remarkably hard to believe that any type of conversion would take over three months to complete and would prevent the existing system from being updated in the meantime, especially for what seems to be a high-profile (if little used) property.
Update 2/20/2014: It appears that the site has finally been updated at some point in the past day or two. Records for November through January are now available. We’ll see if it continues to be updated regularly.
- Actually finding budget information that isn’t from 2010 is an adventure in itself… I gave up, Wikipedia says $22.6b but has no citation. ↩