New federal ‘transparency’ law draws ire of Cook County officials
Photo courtesy of Cook County

New federal ‘transparency’ law draws ire of Cook County officials

A new federal mandate designed to create transparency in how Cook County reports the money it spends could end up costing local taxpayers.

“The stated purpose of the new law is to provide greater transparency in financial reporting, but it could have the opposite effect,” said Cook County Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers.

The law Powers referenced is known as the Financial Data Transparency Act, an obscure piece of legislation passed by Congress in December 2022. During a meeting of the Cook County Board of Commissioners on Feb. 28, Powers shared an overview of the law and his concerns with what it could mean for local government in Cook County.

In short, the law mandates that governments are going to report financial information using “uniform reporting categories and data standards,” which may require costly updates to the county’s financial systems, Powers explained. At the very least, he added, it could lead to “extensive workarounds.”

Many state and national organizations have expressed concern over the legislation, including the National Governors Association, National League of Cities, the United States Conference of Mayors, among many others, according to Powers.

Soon to join the list of those concerned will be the Cook County Board of Commissioners. Board Chair Ann Sullivan was directed by the commissioners to send a letter to Minnesota’s members of Congress expressing their concern over the new law.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Sullivan March 1 about the Financial Data Transparency Act and the letter she plans to send to Washington D.C. Other topics discussed during the interview include funding from the state for waste management in Cook County, participation and engagement in local government following a busy town hall event in Hovland, and what promises to be a busy month in March for the county board. Listen to the full interview in the audio below.