Transparency: A Tale of Three Cities
Although the GFOA (Government Finance Officers Association) Conference is more than a week behind us, I got a chance this week to reflect on my notes. In addition to the How to Measure a High Performing Finance Office session that I blogged about last week, I attended another powerful session on transparency. The panelists represented small, medium, and large municipalities which provided an interesting perspective of how resources may vary, but impact on citizens remained top priority.
The City of Sunrise, AZ offers their citizens a “closer look at the city’s books” with a portal called “It’s Your Money“. Dig into this site and you’ll find easy to access information about all expenditures per department. And as media requests for salary information remain one of the top FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) inquiries, it makes sense that Surprise puts the information out there instead of spending administrative hours per individual request.
The City of Jackson, MS is embracing open data and the idea that it can be used to create a sense of community. Check out the JackStats site to learn about downtown development, employment opportunities and financial stability to name a few. It not only provides the data and dollars spent, but it shows the status of the goal and if it was achieved. An “open book” allows citizens to feel more engaged and part of the solution.
The City of Los Angeles, CA is striving to meet aggressive open data goals and even open checkbook objectives. Their payroll department alone oversees the pay of 45,000 employees. And if you want to peruse through this information you just visit the Payroll Explorer website.
Their stats across all facets of the city are fascinating and dive into areas you wouldn’t even think of on your own. Did you know that their data shows that UPS and FedEx are the top two offenders for parking tickets? I know, that’s not surprising, I mean how else are they going to get us our packages on time? However, when they looked at the data even closer they were able to determine that this is equivalent to needing 12 Full Time Employees just to manage the parking tickets for these two companies.
Transparency plays a pivotal role in our lives. The more information we have about our community and surroundings, the better we can advocate for what we need. And cities can respond with data-driven decisions.