FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - The University of Arkansas today launched OpenUA, its expenditure transparency website, to provide online documentation of public expenses paid by all university offices, departments and divisions.
The Open UA site can be found at http://openua.uark.edu/.
The Arkansas legislature passed Act 1163 during the 2011 session, requiring all state institutions of higher education to provide "expenditure data on a website operated by the state-supported institution" beginning with the 2013 fiscal year, and eventually showing at least 10 years of information. The law requires that the information "be updated on a regular basis."
The Arkansas Department of Higher Education held meetings with officials from the public colleges and universities to help them prepare to create these websites. University of Arkansas staff began working to build the OpenUA site and accumulate the data last fall and testing of the site has continued through the end of June.
"This website fits very well into the U of A's goals to provide transparency and accountability for the people of Arkansas, so we were happy to do it," said Don Pederson, vice chancellor for finance and administration. "It required a very intensive effort by our staff and required a great number of person-hours to accomplish, but we believe the site is important and the effort was worthwhile."
Although the law only requires the website to begin by showing data for fiscal year 2013, which began on July 1, 2012, the university chose to display the expenditure figures for the previous fiscal year, which ended on June 30 of this year.
"In order to organize and build the OpenUA website we needed to have a very detailed idea of what information would be included," said Pederson. "The best way to do that was to use the actual data we had on hand for this current fiscal year. Once we had the site built there wasn't any reason to delete that data. This is information we want Arkansans to be able to access, so we have no problem providing more than the legislature mandated."
The OpenUA website will be updated monthly and cover a series of broad categories, providing details on public money spent, the purpose, amount, who paid and who received the payment, unless any of that information is exempt under the state Freedom of Information Act or federal confidentiality rules.
The university is in the process of building a broader "transparency" website that will eventually include the OpenUA site.
(Source: University of Arkansas)