Show Me the Money


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Presentation to the 2012 National Association of Government Webmasters conference in Kansas City, MO on best practices for using city and county web sites to share government financial data with citizens.

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Show Me the Money

  1. 1. Nathan Smith, City of Lee’s Summit, Missouri Show Me the Money! Sharing financial data with citizens through your web site
  2. 2. Nice to meet you• Nathan Smith – – @nsmith_piano• Systems Analyst, City of Lee’s Summit, MO – Former city web master – ERP guy – Technology handyman
  3. 3. Road map1. Reasons to share financial data2. Site seeing tour3. How to get there
  4. 4. Part 1REASONS TO SHARE
  5. 5. Boost public under standing ofgover nment decisions and priorities “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” — Matthew 6:21
  6. 6. Boost public confidence ingover nment honesty and ef ficiency “Follow the money.” — Deep Throat
  7. 7. Encour age citizen engagement “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” — John F. Kennedy
  8. 8. Local gover nments areopen sour ce institutions• Budget and other financial data are a big part of our source code
  9. 9. W ho is our audience?• Elected officials• Engaged citizens• Open data users (journalists, academics, civic app builders)
  10. 10. Data + Dialog• Some of the most valuable financial data comes in the form of words, not numbers• How can I get involved?• Why is this number high or low?
  11. 11. Webmaster’s Role• Gathering and disseminating financial data requires commitment from finance and other departments• Requires buy in from political leaders• Advocate for openness• Make sure that what we decide to share is shared well
  12. 12. Star t with w hat you have• CAFR• Budget• Materials for elected officials
  13. 13. Make it easy to access• Break it down by chapters• Provide context around the links
  14. 14. Part 2SITE SEEING TOUR
  15. 15. Cate gories of financial infor mation1. Budget – What is our plan?2. Expenditures – How did we spend our money?3. Revenues – Where did our money come from?4. Performance – How are we executing our plan?
  16. 16. Stop 1: Budget
  17. 17. Budget• Question to answer – What is our plan?• Goal for sharing – Citizens understand and help shape government priorities
  18. 18. GFOA budget process goals • Incorporates a long-term perspective • Establishes linkages to broad organizational goals • Focuses budget decisions on results and outcomes • Involves and promotes effective communication with stakeholders • Provide incentives to government management and employees Best Practices in Public Budgeting. Government Finance Officers Association.
  19. 19. How can I get involved?• When are the meetings?• Can I watch them on line, on PEG channel?
  20. 20. How can I share my ideas?• Speak at a meeting• Email somebody• Online forum
  21. 21. What are our priorities as a community?• Make high level information available without having to download the budget book
  22. 22. Get interactive• Let citizens explore different what-if scenarios• Share the tools you are already making for elected officials with citizens
  23. 23. Stop 2: Expenditures
  24. 24. 2. Expenditures• Questions –How did we spend our money?• Goals –Citizens are confident that public funds are spent wisely and contracts are awarded fairly
  25. 25. Post the check register on line • Texas Comptroller encourages cities to do this – see • Can be as simple as a monthly Excel sheet • Consolidate payroll data – don’t post individual paychecks • Tells citizens we have nothing to hide
  26. 26. Summarize by vendor• Gives a bigger picture• Can be easier for citizens to understand• Consider providing detailed description for vendors receiving more than a certain amount
  27. 27. Per sonnel expenses• Normally the largest expense• Local media may be posting• Can post by job title rather than employee name• Can post just salary or salary plus benefits• Nepotism deterrent
  28. 28. Capital pr ojects• Funding sources• Expenditures• Geographic location• Completion dates
  29. 29. Procurement process• Bid opportunities• Awarded contracts
  30. 30. Stop 3: Revenue
  31. 31. 3. Revenue• Questions – What resources is government receiving? – How much am I contributing?• Goals – Citizens understand the sources of government revenue – Citizens understand taxes and fees
  32. 32. How much is gover nment getting?• Sources of revenue• Trends and projections• Respect privacy – Working in public sector is voluntary – Paying taxes is not
  33. 33. How much am I contributing?• Tax rate information• Tax calculators• Maps of special tax districts• Schedule of fees• Water/sewer/electric rates
  34. 34. Stop 4: Perfor mance
  35. 35. 4. Perfor mance• Questions – How do actuals compare to the budget? – How are we doing compared to previous years? – How are revenue and expenditure impacting fund balances?• Goals – Citizens anticipate and understand mid-year adjustments to the budget
  36. 36. Part 3HOW TO SHARE
  37. 37. Make it accessible• Use clean markup• Provide the raw data behind charts and graphs
  38. 38. Make it clear
  39. 39. Check out Edwar d Tufte
  40. 40. Make it beautiful• The designer and the accountant should be friends• Apply the same standards for white space, appealing and useful graphics that you would use to draw people in to other areas of your site
  41. 41. Find a par tner
  42. 42. Find a tool• Crystal Xcelsius• Google Docs• Michigan Citizen’s Guide Template
  43. 43. T hank you!
  44. 44. Links• Toronto, ON council briefing book:• Clearwater, FL CAFR:• St. Louis, MO annual operating plan:• GFOA Best Practices in Budgeting:• Chicago, IL budget calendar:• Alexandria, VA budget information:• Alexandria, VA budget forum:• Fort Worth, TX budget summary:• Seattle, WA budget simulator:
  45. 45. • Alexandria, VA budget assumptions model:• New York, NY council discretionary funding:• DeLeon, TX check register:• Lawrence, KS vendor payments:• Fort Collins, CS open book:• Cook County, IL employee salaries:• Lawrence, KS employee salaries:• Lee’s Summit, MO capital project status:• Demandstar procurement information:• Chicago, IL procurement: abs/
  46. 46. • Solano County, CA revenue trend:• Maricopa County, AZ revenue sources:• Canton, MI tax calculator:• Barrington, IL TIF map:• Berkley, MI city dashboard:• Berkley, MI citizen’s guide: CityofBerkley2010.xls• Winston-Salem, NC dashboard: tFinancialDashboardReport• Rockhill, NC financial dashboard:• Look at Cook:• Edward Tufte:• New Orleans, LA Socrata site:• Michigan Citizen’s guide templates:,1607,7-121- 1751_2197_58826-259606--,00.html