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Brandon Woolf, 2019 Excellence in Finance

Brandon Woolf

Controller,

State of Idaho

Photo by Pete Grady.

According to the Pew Research Center, only 17% of Americans in March of this year trusted their government all or most of the time. These numbers are at an all-time low for the nation, matching only one other set of data in 2011. This information is astonishing, and local governments suffer just as greatly as the federal branches when they can’t prove an integral foundation to constituents.

Brandon Woolf, the State of Idaho controller, has his sights on a brighter future for public trust.

It all began when he was appointed to the position by Idaho Gov. Butch Otter in 2012. Dedicated to rebuilding confidence in state government, Woolf focused on creating a one-stop shop where all citizens could find dynamic and constantly updated information about where their money is flowing throughout the economy.

Soon, his office went live with a transparency website, transparent.idaho.gov, where the public can find everything from employee pay rates to payments made to vendors by each state department.

Christopher Davis, budget officer for the State of Idaho, says the project was born out of Woolf’s desire to increase public trust.

“The first iteration came when he first took office,” Davis says. “He started the team working on an internal transparency website, which was a good site, but it was all based off PDFs.”

In the latest iteration, which recently went live, the site includes easily searchable public records on state employees. The project has already succeeded in moving toward its original intention, and spreading the word is a likely next step.

“The primary driver was to help restore public trust in whatever capacity he could,” Davis says.

Despite the multitude of tasks on Woolf’s daily plate, he is described as having an infectiously positive attitude and focusing intently on every conversation in which he takes part. Woolf seeks to create a healthy workspace for those working in his office, and the sentiment has not gone unnoticed.

This attitude, however, is not one that Woolf attributes solely to himself. Woolf dedicates much of his time away from work to his wife, Janalee, and their three children. A family of rugby lovers, the Woolfs enjoy spending their time in the great outdoors.

“Just to be together, we’ll be outside, whether it’s paddle-boarding or hiking in the foothills or camping,” Woolf said. “Whatever it is, just being together with family is fun.”

Although life at home is of the utmost importance to Woolf, he shares most of his greatest successes with his work family.

“I just have an amazing staff, an amazing team here,” Woolf said. “They’re committed, (and) they could probably go work at several other places in the private sector and make money. But they work hard to provide great service for the citizens right now. I love them; they work so hard and they’re committed.”

The digital version of Excellence in Finance 2020 is available for free download.

About Logan Potter