Governments going digital with records

AIKEN --- Some governments say they are working to make more of what they do transparent to the public.


At a recent city council meeting, Aiken officials decided to start posting most of the city's financial transaction records on its Web site,

"We want to be as transparent as we possibly can," said Mayor Fred Cavanaugh.

The city plans to post its financial monthly statements, including a vast majority of daily expenses, within the next month or two.

Eventually, the city would like to expand the listings to include other agencies to which the city provides funding, such as the Aiken Downtown Development Association and Aiken Corporation.

Aiken County Council also has recently started talks about establishing an audit committee that would put a spotlight on the county's finances.

County officials say the board is not being set up out of any concern for wrongdoing but to make transactions more open to the public.

Columbia County is working to post more of its county commission records on its site,

County Clerk Erin Hall said the county hasn't yet discussed posting financial records but it is in the process of uploading all agreements it has entered into, including resolutions and ordinances.

"We started in January," she said, adding that records have been archived on the county's Web site dating back to the 1990s.

To access such information on the county site, go to a "Quick Links" window at the upper right corner of the home page and select "Agendas and Meetings."

Aiken and Augusta also have been posting their meeting agendas and minutes online.

Augusta's government Web site,, has a link similar to Columbia County's for viewing documents submitted and approved by the commission since consolidation in 1996.

Administrator Fred Russell said, though, that Richmond County hasn't considered posting its financial transactions online because it would entail a "major commitment of resources."

"You've really got to look at the cost effectiveness of what we're doing there," he said. "I mean very seldom do I get a call from anybody wanting to look at those financials. And how much money would it cost to put that up and maintain it versus the one or two phone calls we might get every whenever?"

Reach Preston Sparks at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or