And the Champion for Transparency title goes to…

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He’s a sheep in Woolf’s clothing.

Brandon D. Woolf is Idaho’s controller, and if you don’t know what that is, no worries. Many people don’t.

According to the job description, Idaho’s controller is “the chief fiscal officer of state government [who] manages Idaho’s fiscal affairs which include paying all obligations of the state, paying all state employees, as well as maintaining the centralized financial management reporting and accounting systems.”

Of all those words, the one that jumps out today is “reporting.” Woolf, who has basically grown up in the controller’s office — he started there as an intern 23 years ago and worked his way up — takes that part of his job seriously.

Lucky for you.

Woolf and team were in town recently to demonstrate one of the most advanced and transparent government websites on the planet. If all goes according to plan, you should have access to it later this week.

While the average mortal isn’t a numbers geek, most citizens have a vested interest in knowing how public servants are spending taxpayers’ hard-earned dough. The website, transparent.idaho.gov, is effective now with pages of updated info. But what the improved site will do is provide you levels of information far beyond a department’s or agency’s payroll and expenses.

For example, your legislators’ detailed expenditures will be simpler to access and compare than ever. (Hint: Rep. Vito Barbieri continues to be one of the state’s big spenders.) You want specificity? With a few key pecks, you can learn tons about the vendors supplying goods and services to the state. (Hint: Fish and Game folk like pizza.)

One of the best things about the stance taken by Woolf & Team is this: They don’t shy away from the idea that state government’s financial activities are actually overseen by 1.7 million Idaho “auditors.” In fact, they embrace the highest level of transparency possible.

They fully understand that by shining light in the darkest places, as Woolf puts it, only good things will happen. You can test that theory yourself. When people know someone is watching — whether it’s their mom, their boss, their spouse or 1.7 million citizens — people tend to focus harder on doing the right thing. They become more responsible. They become more efficient. And guess what? Because they’re doing the right things, they feel better about the work they’re doing.

Brandon Woolf is, in our view, a shining example of what a public servant should be. Not only has he surrounded himself with excellent staff, but he walks the walk that all good leaders do.

Example? When he buys lunch for his crew, he or his right-hand man, Josh Whitworth, don’t pass that bill along to taxpayers. They pay for it out of their own pockets.

How do we know? We looked it up on transparent.idaho.gov.

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