State honors LISD for financial transparency

 
The district was awarded a Traditional Finance Transparency Star by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts under the new Transparency Stars program.

Recognizing local governments for going above and beyond in their financial practices, the Transparency Star designation is new for 2016. In previous years, Gold and then Platinum were the highest honor in the Circle. Under the Comptroller’s prior Leadership Circle transparency programs, Longview ISD's Finance Department has earned the highest possible rating since 2012.

Longview ISD was among just four Transparency Star school districts statewide as of Tuesday.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced the program's launch in March. The goal is to recognize government entities that provide easy online access "not only to traditional financial data but also to information regarding contracts and procurement, economic development, public pension plans and debt obligations."

"This office has always led the way in Texas' transparency efforts, but true transparency is constantly evolving, which is why we are shining a bright light on additional areas of local government debt and spending," Hegar said. "While our initial transparency programs have been hugely successful, I'm proud to recognize local governments bringing more transparency to Texas taxpayers."

While records are accessible through in-person requests, Longview ISD gained "Star" status in the Circle for making financial data easily available on its official website.

“Everything you’d want to know about our finances is available within two clicks of our home page,” said Lynn Marshall, Longview ISD’s assistant superintendent of business, finance & facilities. “And it’s spelled out in a way that you don’t have to be an accountant to understand it.”

In addition to pushing for greater access to a wider range of local information, the Comptroller's office will highlight government efforts to provide taxpayers with the tools necessary to better understand and analyze that information.

The Transparency Stars program has a streamlined application process and allows local governments to apply for recognition in up to five areas. After receiving an initial star for traditional financial transparency, local entities can go on to apply in other areas, for a total of five stars:
  • Traditional Finances
  • Contracts and Procurement
  • Economic Development
  • Public Pensions
  • Debt Obligations
"With a basic smartphone, Texas taxpayers can access vast amounts of data, and it's time those data were made available at the local level," Hegar added. "By participating in this program, cities, counties and school districts can give Texas taxpayers the information they need to make informed decisions about local issues and increase taxpayer confidence in local governance."

For more information on the program, including guidelines and qualification criteria, visit the Comptroller's Transparency Stars website.
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