Oklahoma universities exempted from online database disclosing purchases by agency employees on state-issued credit cards

Taxpayers can now go to the Open Books Web site to learn what state employees are buying with state-issued credit cards, The Oklahoman reported today.

But don't expect to find what employees of the state universities and colleges have bought.

The newspaper's Paul Monies reports that higher education was exempted from the online disclosure law and have purchase card contracts separate from the rest of state government.

One of the bill's authors, Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie, said he was surprised to learn that higher education purchase card information isn't included in the online database.

"We’ll certainly look at adding them in future legislation," said Murphey, who signed FOI Oklahoma's Open Government Pledge in the 2008 election.

In the meantime, OSU is examining how to make its purchase card transactions available online, said spokesman Gary Shutt.

OU spokeswoman Catherine Bishop said that school would comply with Open Records Act requests for the purchase card data but has no plans to post the information online.

Monies notes on the newspaper's Right to Know blog that higher education "consumes 17 percent of the state budget."

"Don’t taxpayers deserve to know how that money is spent, too?" asks Monies.

Yes, they do -- and without having to request the records each time.

Joey Senat, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
OSU School of Journalism

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the commentators and do not necessarily represent the position of FOI Oklahoma Inc., its staff, or its board of directors. Differing interpretations of open government law and policy are welcome.