Columbia's financial records online

The government, keeping you in the loop. The buzz word is "transparent" and it's coming from the White House on down. Here in South Carolina, State Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom is leading a campaign to put government financial records online. He says it will open up government.

"It elevates the concern from every government official to ensure that that money is carefully spent," said Richard Eckstrom. "And so I think it creates better stewardship."

Monday the city of Columbia agreed to also make their financial records public.

"This is the time for open government," said SC Policy Council President Ashley Landess. "There can be no democracy without an informed citizen."

Landess wants to see more transparency in government for improved accountability.

"The most important thing in this tough economy is that taxpayers are able to communicate their spending priorities to their elected officials," said Landess.

An idea echoed by Columbia Mayor Bob Coble.

"We thought that this was absolutely essential for the city of Columbia at this particular time," said Mayor Coble.

The city's plan is to restore trust and maintain trust. Columbia is now jumping onboard to allow taxpayers the chance to see the line-by-line breakdown of government spending.

Irmo already does that. The town council put its website up last month so residents would know exactly how their tax dollars are spent. Columbia will have something similar.

"We have a new system, new people," said Mayor Coble. "We are proud of what they have been able to do. And lets show everybody we have corrected our problems."

Problems that include paying the same bills twice and unknowingly spending $26-million more on health care, than budgeted. Mayor Coble says the city can't afford to repeat those mistakes.

The website allows people to see everything from money spent on travel expenses, to the town's petty cash fund.