Atlanta Residents Can Now Track Government Spending
This fiscal year, to date, the city of Atlanta has made more than 50,000 transactions, totaling up to $2.1 billion in spending. Those are large figures — as befits the ninth largest metro area in the U.S. — and now, residents of this capital city can dig deeper to uncover precisely where and how this money is spent.
“…Atlanta’s Open Checkbook provides residents with a powerful accountability tool and will shine a bright light on City spending as we work to reestablish public trust in government.” —Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms
All sorts of financial details are available on Atlanta’s Socrata-powered Open Checkbooks site. The site launched earlier this week, meeting the city’s self-imposed “end of summer” deadline set in April 2018. (The city signed a contract with Socrata in June, just a few months afterward.) At a press conference to announce the launch of the new site, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said, “Today’s launch of Atlanta’s Open Checkbook provides residents with a powerful accountability tool and will shine a bright light on City spending as we work to reestablish public trust in government.”
Allowing Atlantans to Dig in to the City’s Financial Data
The Open Checkbook site provides an aggregate view of financial data going back to fiscal year 2017, as well as more granular views, by department, office, account, project, and fund. Navigating Open Checkbook is simple — the site presents complex information intuitively, and can be accessed from phone, tablet, or computer. Data will update each quarter.
By browsing through the site, Atlantans can see which department has the highest spending (the Department of Aviation, with $465 million) and which has the lowest (the Atlanta Citizens Review Board, spending just over $100,000). Click on a department, and you can see spending by project (or opt to view spending by fund, office, account, vendor, or category instead). Checkbook-level transaction details are also available.
Atlantans interested in knowing what projects the Department of Public Works is working on can see that the department is focused on resurfacing streets, repairing sidewalks, and improvements to transportation infrastructure.
“The launch of Open Checkbook will empower residents to hold government accountable and allow them to see exactly how their tax dollars are being spent,” said Chief Operating Officer Richard Cox, noting that the new site also meets U.S. PIRG’s transparency standards.
A Commitment to Transparency and Efficiency
Providing visibility into spending is important to the city of Atlanta. “We’ve received so many questions about our spending,” said Mayor Bottoms. “So rather than waiting on the public, or the media to ask, we’re making it available to you.”
It isn’t only the public that benefits from visibility around spending. Along with a commitment to transparency, the city hopes the Open Checkbook site will have a transformative impact on how the city’s government accesses and reviews spending data.
“Ultimately, this should improve competition for city contracts, help agencies improve tracking, and near and dear to my heart, help us control spending,” said Cox.