Help and FAQs

Data Questions

 

Q.  What is the information source for the Maine Open Checkbook?

A.  Spending details are based on transactions recorded by State agencies in the statewide Accounting and Payroll systems.

 

Q. How often is information updated?

A.  Expense information is updated monthly. Employee compensation data is updated annually.

 

Q. Why are some Vendor names "Not Provided" or "Not Applicable"?

A.  When multiple small payments of the same type are to be made, the accounting system allows departments to use a generic vendor rather than having to obtain tax documents to establish individual vendor records.  Some of the expenditure data is considered private or protected under State and Federal laws.  If a payee/vendor/customer name is protected by law, the vendor name will be displayed as "Not Provided" on the detail transaction page.  Additionally, some of the data is interfaced from separate systems (e.g., Payroll summary information) so the vendor name is displayed as "Not Applicable" on the detail transaction page.

 

Q. Why are some Vendors listed more than once?

A.  There are many reasons for this, including:

  • a vendor may have more than one location, and each one is listed separately;
  • a vendor may have changed their name or moved, and their original name and/or location is preserved for historical transactions;
  • for business reasons, a vendor may have more than one bank account, and need to be represented multiple times as a result; or
  • a vendor may have been entered with a small or large typo that has since been corrected.

  

Q. Does the Payroll list reflect all current State Employees?

A.  Yes, for the Executive and Judicial branches; however, it also includes employees and individuals who were on the payroll earlier in the year, but are no longer an active employee. This tool cannot be used to determine the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) employees in the State. Rather, it is focused on payroll spending.

 

Q. Are employee reimbursements reflected?

A.  No, employee reimbursements are not shown by the individual employee, except where expenses were paid through the Accounting system.

 

Q. Do State employees receive a Pension and Social Security Benefits?

A.  Generally, State employees are not active members of Social Security, but instead contribute a percentage of their annual salary to the pension system.

 

Q. Is all State spending information available in the Maine Open Checkbook?

A.  This release of data is the first phase to make State finances accessible to the public. The most straight-forward information is included in this release, with additional information planned for future development.

 

Q. What historical data is available?

A. State spending for Budget Fiscal Years 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 is reflected.  This is a continuous period from July 1, 2008 to the present.  The State's budget fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30.

 

Q. Has the information presented been audited?

A.  The State of Maine audits data at the end of each fiscal year (June 30th); audit reports are issued six months later.  The data presented in the Maine Open Checkbook is unaudited; however, we have provided links to the audited financial statements, or CAFRs.

 

Q. Does the data match the State's audited financial reports?

A.  Due to exclusions and restrictions in confidentiality laws, as well as the absence of accounting accruals, detailed transactions will not match the audited expenditures.  Expenditure information provided is recognized on the State's budgetary basis of accounting.

 

Q. Why do some agencies display less detailed information?

A.  Some agencies have expenditures that are not subject to detailed release based upon public safety or confidentiality concerns. In these instances the Office of the State Controller and the affected agencies have worked to have as much information included on this site as possible without jeopardizing protected data.

 

 

Further Questions

 

Q. Who do I contact if I have questions about specific payments to a specific vendor by agency/department?

A.  Send an email to OSC Transparency Inquiries at Transparency_Support@maine.gov with as much information about the particular payment or payee as you can in order to ensure the most accurate response. If the central staff cannot answer your question, it will be forwarded to the appropriate agency for a response.

 

Q. Who do I contact for general information about the spending portion of this site?

A.  If you have any questions about spending, or suggestions on improving the reporting of Maine State government finances, please contact OSC Transparency Inquiries at Transparency_Support@maine.gov.

 

 

Technical Questions

 

Q. Which browsers are supported by the Maine Open Checkbook?

A.  The Maine Open Checkbook is compatible with the following browsers:  Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Apple Safari.

 

Q. How can I tell which browser I am using?

A.  There is usually an "About" feature under a browser's Help menu. It will display the name of the browser and the version.

 

Q. How does the Maine Open Checkbook meet accessibility standards?

A.   The state of Maine is committed to ensuring accessibility for disabled citizens and employees to information and technology in accordance with the Website Accessibility Policy for State Websites

 

Q. No search results are coming back, why?

A.  The Maine Open Checkbook is built on millions of data records. It is designed to allow users to easily find the information that they need with a series of searches that narrow the results displayed. However, if the search criteria are contradictory no results will be displayed. (e.g., one Government Area is selected, and a Department that is not part of that Area is selected).  Review the criteria and revise as needed.   Similarly, if the criteria entered are very specific, there may not be any data that matches the request. Remove some of the filters, and search again. It is better to start reviewing at a high level and narrow the results from there.

 

 

 

Get Started


Resources

Maine.gov

http://www.maine.gov/portal/index.html

 

Maine Governor Paul LePage

http://www.maine.gov/governor/lepage/

 

Maine Office of the State Controller (OSC)

http://www.maine.gov/osc/index.shtml

 

Maine Revenue Reports

http://www.maine.gov/osc/finanrept/revenue.shtml

 

Bulk Downloads

http://www.maine.gov/osc/admin/datashare.shtml


Disclaimers

What is included in Maine Open Checkbook

Expenses

 

This section includes vendor payments for all State Agencies, Branches, Constitutional Offices, Independent Agencies, Boards and Commissions that are funded via the State budget.  Additionally, summary employee compensation by fiscal year, fund type, organization and category for the Executive and Judicial branches is included in this section.  Employee compensation (on a calendar year basis, by employee name) can be found in the Employee Compensation section. This website contains detail transactions which are uploaded to the website monthly.  These transactions have not been audited.  

 

Employee Compensation

 

In addition to salary information on a calendar year basis, by employee name, Agency and Payroll Company for the Executive and Judicial branches, employee compensation amounts include benefit amounts paid on behalf of, but not necessarily to, the employee, such as health and dental insurance, retirement, etc.  These benefits have a direct benefit to the employee.  Other payments not directly related to the employee are not included such as retiree health insurance, retirement unfunded actuarial liability and workers compensation.  Employee Compensation transactions are uploaded annually.  For analysis purposes, employee compensation information by fiscal year, fund type, organization and category can be found in the Expenses section.