Plans to fix online budget tracker undetermined

    Anchorage, Alaska (AP) - Gov. Mike Dunleavy's administration has announced an online platform used to publicly track Alaska's spending is broken, even as the state is managing a budget deficit and federal coronavirus relief aid.

    The Checkbook Online system has been broken for a month and there is currently no timeline to fix it, meaning residents will have no way to examine the state's budget.

    The state Department of Administration, which maintains the system, has said it does not have enough money to fix the system and is overwhelmed with financial software upgrades and responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

    The system has been removed from the web until further notice and needs to be re-evaluated, department special assistant Kelly Hanke said in a statement.

    “It has become apparent that there is a need for internal controls and quality assurance measures to be put in place, as well as an auditing peer review process before we can put it back online,” Hanke said, adding that there may be errors in the coding that can't be fixed until the software upgrades are finished.

    She added: “We do not have an expected date set for the online checkbook to be reinstated, nor do we have funding authority to properly address this item.”

    The system was first launched by Sarah Palin's administration in 2008 and was updated monthly with state agency payments to state contractors and grant recipients. Watchdog groups and reporters often reviewed the postings.

    The department stopped updating the system and removed about a year's worth of information in April to be reviewed, officials said. There is currently no law requiring maintenance of the system.

    Anchorage Sen. Bill Wielechowski has proposed legislation requiring the system to be maintained and include data from state authorities and corporations, not just agencies. A hearing on the bill was held in March, but it didn't advance because of lawmakers' focus on a response to COVID-19.

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