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.
Boost public under standing ofgover nment decisions and priorities “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” — Matthew 6:21
Boost public confidence ingover nment honesty and ef ficiency “Follow the money.” — Deep Throat
Encour age citizen engagement “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” — John F. Kennedy
Local gover nments areopen sour ce institutions• Budget and other financial data are a big part of our source code
W ho is our audience?• Elected officials• Engaged citizens• Open data users (journalists, academics, civic app builders)
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?
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
Star t with w hat you have• CAFR• Budget• Materials for elected officials
Make it easy to access• Break it down by chapters• Provide context around the links
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?
Budget• Question to answer – What is our plan?• Goal for sharing – Citizens understand and help shape government priorities
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.
How can I get involved?• When are the meetings?• Can I watch them on line, on PEG channel?
How can I share my ideas?• Speak at a meeting• Email somebody• Online forum
What are our priorities as a community?• Make high level information available without having to download the budget book
Get interactive• Let citizens explore different what-if scenarios• Share the tools you are already making for elected officials with citizens
2. Expenditures• Questions –How did we spend our money?• Goals –Citizens are confident that public funds are spent wisely and contracts are awarded fairly
Post the check register on line • Texas Comptroller encourages cities to do this – see http://texastransparency.org • Can be as simple as a monthly Excel sheet • Consolidate payroll data – don’t post individual paychecks • Tells citizens we have nothing to hide
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
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
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
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
Links• Toronto, ON council briefing book: http://www.toronto.ca/civic-engagement/council-briefing/index.htm• Clearwater, FL CAFR: http://www.clearwater-fl.com/gov/depts/finance/docs_forms_pub/cafr_11/index.asp• St. Louis, MO annual operating plan: http://stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/budget/documents/fy13-city-of-st-louis-annual-o• GFOA Best Practices in Budgeting: http://www.gfoa.org/services/nacslb/• Chicago, IL budget calendar: http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/obm/provdrs/city_budg/svcs/budget_calendar.html• Alexandria, VA budget information: http://alexandriava.gov/Budget• Alexandria, VA budget forum: http://apps.alexandriava.gov/WebComments/CommentBoardSummary.aspx?id=29• Fort Worth, TX budget summary: http://fortworthtexas.gov/fy2013budget/• Seattle, WA budget simulator: http://www.seattle.gov/budgetsimulation/
• Alexandria, VA budget assumptions model: http://alexandriava.gov/uploadedFiles/budget/info/budget2012/FY2012BudgetForecastScenario• New York, NY council discretionary funding: http://council.nyc.gov/html/budget/council_disclosure_funding.shtml• DeLeon, TX check register: http://www.cityofdeleon.org/government/financial-transparency/city-check-register/• Lawrence, KS vendor payments: http://www.lawrenceks.org/assets/budget/2013/2011%20Accounts%20Payable%20Vendor%20• Fort Collins, CS open book: http://www.fcgov.com/openbook/• Cook County, IL employee salaries: https://datacatalog.cookcountyil.gov/Finance-Administration/Comptroller-Annual-Salaries-as-of-• Lawrence, KS employee salaries: http://www.lawrenceks.org/budget_files/2013/2011_Lawrence_KS_Employee_Salaries.pdf• Lee’s Summit, MO capital project status: http://lees-summit.mo.us/cip_new/main.cfm• Demandstar procurement information: http://www.demandstar.com/• Chicago, IL procurement: http://webapps.cityofchicago.org/VCSearchWeb/org/cityofchicago/vcsearch/controller/bidT abs/begin.do?agencyId=city
• Solano County, CA revenue trend: http://www.solanocounty.com/SubApp/SolanoIndex/website/CityRev.html• Maricopa County, AZ revenue sources: http://www.maricopa.gov/openbooks/revenue.aspx• Canton, MI tax calculator: http://www.canton-mi.org/government/prop_calc.aspx• Barrington, IL TIF map: http://www.barrington-il.gov/index.aspx?page=313• Berkley, MI city dashboard: http://www.berkleymich.org/fintreas_dashboard.shtm• Berkley, MI citizen’s guide: http://www.berkleymich.org/documents/CitizensGuide- CityofBerkley2010.xls• Winston-Salem, NC dashboard: http://www.cityofws.org/Home/Departments/FinancialManagementServices/Articles/Curren tFinancialDashboardReport• Rockhill, NC financial dashboard: http://www.cityofrockhill.com/financialdashboard.html• Look at Cook: http://lookatcook.com/• Edward Tufte: http://www.edwardtufte.com/• New Orleans, LA Socrata site: https://data.nola.gov/• Michigan Citizen’s guide templates: http://www.michigan.gov/treasury/0,1607,7-121- 1751_2197_58826-259606--,00.html