Three Ohio colleges and universities put their expenditures on OhioCheckbook.com on Tuesday — one year after state Treasurer Josh Mandel announced five schools would join the effort.
Mandel said Tuesday the schools’ differing accounting systems and student privacy laws and policies made preparing expenditure data more time-consuming than for cities, villages and other entities that use OhioCheckbook.com.
“It was more difficult, not because universities were giving us a hard time but because of the nature of how the finances are structured,” Mandel said during a Tuesday news conference.
Three schools’ data went live Tuesday: Bowling Green State University, Central State University and Central Ohio Technical College. Miami and Wright State universities are expected to go online in June.
The data excludes student-identifying information, which has been a challenge given many students are also school employees, said Bruce Johnson, president of the Inter-University Council of Ohio. The colleges and universities also use a variety of accounting software systems, and information has to be extracted differently from each in order to display properly on OhioCheckbook.com.
Mandel’s office launched OhioCheckbook.com in December 2014 with state expenditures. In 2015, local governments and school districts were invited to post their expenses to the website.
The treasurer’s office is footing the bill for local governments and universities with savings from Mandel’s term in office. Mandel’s office plans to spend about $1.3 million a year on the program, through a contract with California-company OpenGov.
While the state expenditures lag behind about a month, the college spending posted Tuesday goes only through June 2015 or June 2016. Mandel said he can’t force local entities to upload spending data, but they’re encouraged to do so as often as possible.