CHICAGO - Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka on Friday announced that 458 local leaders from 64 counties this week participated in her office's three-day, seven-city statewide Follow the Money Series aimed at rooting out fraud and making government more transparent.
Hosted in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Illinois CPA Society, the half-day Follow the Money workshops offered presentations detailing best government practices and what community leaders should look for in reviewing budgets and auditing financial records.
More information about the Series, including the CPA Society's presentation, is available at www.illinoiscomptroller.com.
"If you follow the money you're going to know where there's trouble," Topinka said. "I was overwhelmed by the response from leaders across the state and in their interest in rooting our fraud and delivering better government. By teaming with the FBI and the CPA Society, we've armed local leaders with new tools to identify wrongdoing and protect public dollars.
"The bottom line is that the more set of eyes we have watching government, the more accountable it will be to taxpayers - and that's what Follow the Money is all about."
The Follow the Money Series included workshops in Rockford, Moline, Peoria, Springfield, Champaign, Edwardsville and Carterville. Participants traveled from 196 cities and represented 303 governmental bodies. Of the 458 participants, 174 were elected leaders.
The series is part of Topinka's ongoing effort to make government more transparent and accessible. In launching the state Ledger, she enabled residents to click through everything from the state's bill backlog numbers to agency budgets and employee salaries. She then launched the Warehouse, a comprehensive database that puts local government financial information and tens of thousands of records at a single location for taxpayer review. Most recently, Topinka announced that her office would include an insert in tax refunds with state spending and bill backlog information. Each of the initiatives was completed using existing resources.
"The Illinois CPA Society was proud to partner with the Comptroller and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to present information about fraud, an issue that the accounting profession takes great strides to detect and prevent," said Todd Shapiro, president of the Illinois CPA Society. "The workshop series provided local elected officials with new ideas and resources on the importance of financial information reporting and audits and what local officials should look for in selecting an auditor and in audit reports."