UPDATE: OpenBook Wisconsin shows state expenditures - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: OpenBook Wisconsin goes online to show state expenditures

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MADISON (WKOW) -- You can now go online and see where the State of Wisconsin is spending some of its money, but exactly how its being spent is still tough to determine.

OpenBook Wisconsin has been in the works since 2011, when Governor Walker signed it into law as part of the state budget. 

A soft launch of the OpenBook website finally happened Thursday morning, with a beta or test version put online.  The Department of Administration originally indicated site would be ready by the end of 2012, but the amount of testing required pushed that back by more than a year.

"I never would have thought it was going to be as difficult as it was," said DOA Deputy Secretary Chris Schoenherr.  "But it has been, and we worked through that."

The site was set up to be a one-stop for people looking to see how state agencies, the legislature, courts and the UW System are spending their money.

It shows the amounts paid for the purchases of goods and services, as well as travel and vendor payments by those entities, but lacks more specific information.   For instance, this transaction only shows that the Department of Transportation paid over $10,000 to a hair salon.

"The reality is, that's actually a real estate transaction between the DOT and this particular place," said Schoenherr.

But there is no way to find out that level of detail on the website.  People who want that type of information would have to submit a question on the site and wait for an answer.

"If we need to dig in and find some information for people about a specific transaction, its their money so, we ought to be able to do that," said Schoenherr.

The information for the legislature and state agencies dates back to fiscal year 2008, but expenditures for the UW System only go back to 2013.  For the courts, expenditures stop at 2011.

Other information that's currently offline includes employee pay and fringe benefit information, as well as contracts and grants awarded by state agencies.
   
"There comes a point in time where the perfect becomes the enemy of the good," said Schoenherr.  "And realizing what we had and the data that we had that we thought we had enough stuff here to do, at least do the soft launch." 

All of the missing information is supposed to eventually be on the website, but Schoenherr says some of it could take years to get there.  For the time being, if people want more information about a specific transaction, it will be up to the state agency or entity responsible for it to track it down.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- People who want to see exactly how the State of Wisconsin is spending its money will have now have a chance to view some of that information with the soft launch of OpenBook Wisconsin.

Officials with the Wisconsin Department of Administration says the beta website went live at 7:00 a.m. Thursday and can handle a load of at least 50,000 to 60,000 users at this point.

"We are calling this our beta version because it is a work in progress," said DOA Deputy Secretary Chris Schoenherr.

OpenBook Wisconsin includes expenditure data for state agencies and the legislature dating back to 2008, including the amount paid for the purchases of goods or services, travel and vendor payments.

However, the site does not yet provide any information about employee salaries and fringe benefits.  It also does not have any information about contracts that state agencies have with specific vendors, or grant awards made by agencies.

The expenditure data for state courts and the UW System are more limited at this time.  Full court data is only currently available for 2008-11.  The site also does not provide purchase card data for the UW system.

Schoenherr says some of that data may not be available on the site for years.

OpenBook Wisconsin was adopted as part of the 2011 state budget, but missed two previous launch dates in the spring and fall of 2013.

Schoenherr says those delays were due to miscalculations on the time it would take to enter all of the information into the system.

Capitol Bureau Chief Greg Neumann will have more on this story on 27 News at 5 and 6.

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