Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Find information, tips and answers to your common questions about the Open Checkbook Tool here.

To jump to the question or section you're most interested in, simply click on one of the links below.  You can also scan the complete list of questions and answers available by scrolling down to the bottom portion of the page.

Frequently Asked Questions:

General Information

Additional Links

 File Information

Data Information

Requests for Additional Information


General Information

Q: What is the purpose of this website?

A: The Open Checkbook tool lets you view County payments for goods or services – such as office supplies, fuel, electrical or professional services.   [Top of Page]

Q: What type of data is provided in Open Checkbook?

A: Currently we are providing vendor payment information broken down by payment date, payment number, Fund charged, Department charged, account charged, and amount paid.   [Top of Page]

Q: What is not displayed on Open Checkbook?

A: Not all records are required to be released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  Federal and state laws establish various exemptions from disclosure for certain categories of information to protect against certain harms, such as invasion of personal privacy, or harm to law enforcement investigations. Good business practice also protects private and confidential information of citizens and business partners, information related to pending legal matters, and information that could jeopardize public safety enforcement. [Top of Page]

Q: Who is responsible for the website and content?

A: The Finance Department has operational responsibility for the site.  Individual departments are accountable for the spending of their budgeted funds and the accuracy of data provided within the tool. [Top of Page]

Q: Is the information reported in Open Checkbook audited?

A: No.  Reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of data presented; however, it should be considered “unaudited”. The County’s annually audited financial reports can be viewed here.    [Top of Page]

File Information

Q: What software do I need to use this tool?

A: Ease of review and functionality is best with Excel.  However, should Excel not be available to you, we have also provided the data in an Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format that can be viewed through Adobe Acrobat’s Reader product available free on line for download.    [Top of Page]

Q: Why is there no data prior to January 1, 2017?

A: The project was kicked off in January of 2017.  Starting with fiscal year 2018 (July 1, 2017), each fiscal year will include the full 12 months of data.   [Top of Page]

Q: When and how will new information be added to the tool?

A: Monthly files will be posted by no later than the end of the month for payments made within the previous month.  For example, payments made in June will be added to the tool by no later than July 31st.  The new payments will be added to the original file to allow for fiscal year to date review of payment information.   [Top of Page]

Q: How will I know when a new month of data has been added?

A: The downloadable file name will reflect the most current month available.   [Top of Page]

Q: Why can’t I select individual fields or cells within the downloaded file?

A: The file has been locked to disallow any editing.  However, by selecting the down arrow to the right of each column name, you can sort, search or filter the data as needed.   [Top of Page]

Q: How many filters can I set?

A: As many as you wish.  Different filters can be set for each column.   [Top of Page]

Q: I messed up my filters.  How do I start over?

A: Locate the filter button at the right of each column header.  Click on the button and find the item titled “Clear filter from…”  It will be close to the top of the menu listing.  If you continue to have trouble, you can always download the file again to start fresh.   [Top of Page]

Q: Why does the Total Payments amount at the top right of the screen keep changing?

A: The field has been controlled to provide a total for only payments that have been selected and viewable on the screen.  For example, if you have selected to see only payments made to Ace Uniform Virginia Inc., the amount of the Total Payments will equal the total of the individual payments shown below it. [Top of Page]

Data Information

Q: What does the “Payment #” stand for and why is it sometimes repeated?

A: The County uses a variety of payment methods, e.g. checks and wires.  The Payment # refers to the identifying number (e.g. check number, wire number) assigned to the vendor payment.  To maintain efficient operations and reduce costs, multiple invoices are combined on a single check to a vendor.  Charges on an invoice may be recorded to different budget lines and/or departments requiring multiple rows to be shown in the tool for one payment issued.   [Top of Page]

Q: Why are negative amounts shown?

A: Negative amounts may represent a refund (e.g. item returned, class cancellation) or they may reflect the correction of a charge previously recorded to an incorrect budget line.  [Top of Page]

Q: How are disbursements made through a purchasing card shown?

A: The County’s primary purchasing card is through SunTrust Bank.  Payments made for purchases against the purchasing card will be shown under the vendor name “SunTrust Bank (2352).”  In addition, the Department of Social Services maintains its own purchasing cards to facilitate potentially confidential information.  Information not subject to FOIA exemptions can be found under the vendor name “SunTrust Bank (6940). [Top of Page]

Q: Does this tool include payments made by Spotsylvania County Public Schools?

A: Only payments on behalf of Spotsylvania County Government are included.  Payments made by Spotsylvania County Public Schools can be found on their website.   [Top of Page]

Q: What is a fiscal year?

A: Spotsylvania County government budgets and accounts for its financial activity on a fiscal year that begins July 1st and ends the following June 30th.   [Top of Page]

Q: Why is the vendor name “County Employee”? 

A: To protect the privacy of our employees we have replaced an individual employee’s name with this identification.   [Top of Page]

Requests for Additional Information

Q: What do I do if I have a general question about an item on the listing?

A: We have provided a department contact list within the Excel file.  This same listing is also available here should you not have access to Excel.   [Top of Page]

Q: How do I request an invoice or other supporting document?

A: To request public records from Spotsylvania County, you may direct your request to Spotsylvania County's FOIA Officer, Niki Dickinson in the County Administrator’s Office.  For additional information please see FOIA Information.   [Top of Page]

Q: Will I be charged for copies of public records?

A: You may have to pay for the records you request.  FOIA allows us to charge for the actual costs of responding to FOIA requests.  This would include staff time spent searching for the requested records, copying costs, or any other costs directly related to supplying the requested records.  You may request we provide an estimate of the fee in advance.  Additional information is available at FOIA Rights & Responsibilities.   [Top of Page]

Q: How do I report errors or problems with the tool?

A: Please contact Adam Rollyson at arollyson@spotsylvania.va.us .   [Top of Page]