MORGANTOWN — The government doesn’t make money — it’s a steward of the people’s money, according to officials with OpenGov and Project Mountaineer.

On Thursday evening, West Virginia State Auditor JB McCuskey, OpenGov CEO Zac Bookman and county commissioners and mayors from around West Virginia gathered at the Waterfront Hotel Conference Room to celebrate the 40th county in the state joining Project Mountaineer.

Project Mountaineer was initiated by the West Virginia State Auditor’s Office. Its goal is to provide local county commissions and municipalities with software for accounting and reporting spending at no cost. The software used is called OpenGov and it is an easy-to-use and modern reporting solution, according to Bookman and McCuskey.

“Our citizens have better access to their governance information than any place in the country. Today, we’re celebrating our local government, who by large, jumped at the opportunity to be part of this transparency revolution,” McCuskey said.

The event also served as a roundtable discussion between leaders about how they have used Project Mountaineer and OpenGov software in their cities and counties.

The software builds a report and creates a visualization of data that makes it easier to spot input errors and enables predictability, McCuskey said.

“So what you can then start to see is trends as well as employers. But even more importantly than that, every single week, we get a report of fraud in a local government or local government agency that some constituent has found off of our website,” McCuskey said.

Bookman said that, from an outside, independent watchdog perspective, West Virginia has gone from being the least transparent state to most transparent in terms of information on taxpayer spending and finances.

The roundtable panelists included Monongalia County Commissioners and hosts Sean Sikora and Tom Bloom, Kanawha County Commissioner Lance Wheeler, Summers County Commissioner Ted Kula, Jefferson County Commissioner Tricia Jackson, Elkins Mayor Jerry Marco and Treasurer Tracy Judy and Parkersbrug Mayor Tom Joyce. The discussion was lead by Skylar Wotring, transparency and oversight director for the State Auditor’s Office.

Panelists shared how they are able to use the software and how transparency is important to them — some of them have even based their re-election campaigns on it.

Joyce said that his mother, who is 77, doesn’t care about the software at all, but for the next generation of citizens, it is incredibly helpful, since they are very tech-driven. He explained that sometimes during county commission meetings, he will use OpenGov to double check information.

Bloom said he sends updates via email, so the information is available to the public quickly and he can avoid encounters with “trolls,” trying to say he is not being transparent.

“We are arguing the policies, but let’s not argue the facts. We put the information out there, we can clear the argument off the table and then we can have decent arguments about policies,” Sikora said.

McCuskey also presented Judy, Sikora and Bloom with Project Mountaineer Achievement Awards for their work in their city and county.

“I’m glad to see that a software like this and wanting to really get the transparency and the accountability out from municipalities, counties and the state, as well. I think it’s important and a much needed direction the state is finally going in,” Judy said.

Monongalia County was the first to join Project Mountaineer, so McCuskey said they will always have a special place in his heart. Bloom and Sikora said they are proud to be a part of it.

“It’s wonderful to be able to come up with an idea and with what we have here, we’re able to do something and move forward. I think the key thing in Monongalia County is do not say to us it can’t be done because we’re gonna work our ass off and get it done,” Bloom said.

For more information on OpenGov, visit their website. Visit to see the state’s spending.

Reach me at or 304-367-2549.

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