Massachusetts Relaunches CTHRU Open Data Platform
This week, the commonwealth of Massachusetts announced the relaunch of its CTHRU financial transparency site. With firm dedication to financial transparency and community engagement, the “Bay State” has added new information, offering even more data on how taxpayer dollars are being spent.
“It’s as modern as it gets.” —Tom Shack, Massachusetts Comptroller
In an interview about the relaunch with weekly finance publication Banker & Tradesman, “Comptroller’s Transparency Initiative Expands,” Massachusetts Comptroller Tom Shack said, “It’s as modern as it gets. Today, you’ll see yesterday’s transactions. No human interaction. It’s all set up automatically…You can do as deep a dive as you want.”
The CTHRU Platform
Originally launched in 2016, the open data and open records platform consists of Socrata’s Open Budget and Open Payroll products and is publicly available through the comptroller’s website. The platform is a streamlined way for users to visualize the state’s budget and spending data dating back to 2010. All data on the portal continues to be updated weekly to ensure users have access to the most up-to-date spending information.
Shack noted that the CTHRU platform was the state’s solution to overcoming “innovacracy,” or the trend of government agencies taking innovative ideas and superimposing bureaucratic red tape on them. In other words, the open data platform is intended to make state budget and spending information totally transparent for public review.
That dedication to transparency has already proven to be an effective way to identify areas for improvement in state spending. Case in point: A recent investigation by WCVB 5 found that the Massachusetts Cultural Council charged more than $71,000 on state credit cards over the course of three years for food. Reporters also raised questions about various spending cited in expense reports and within the state’s Gaming Commission. According to the investigation, after public interest was raised in the spending, departments have canceled approximately 30 state credit cards.
Keeping the state accountable is one of the main goals of the CTHRU platform, which is why the state recently re-launched an updated and expanded version, which now includes data on payroll, new hires, and quasi-government spending. As Shack points out, this aligns with the state’s continued dedication to financial transparency with open data. “We think that having open data and having the public’s eyes and public’s resources brought to bear on our data will be useful. It’ll be useful for making sure that we’re avoiding fraud and waste and abuse. We also think it’s useful from a data analytics standpoint and to do thing that we don’t even know we can do yet,” Shack said as reported by the State House News Service.
Read our case study to learn more about how CTHRU is driving public engagement.