Why Open the Books?

August 20, 2015 12:00 pm PST | Data as a Service, Public Finance

Imagine two cities: Anytown and Evergreen. Both have a citizen — Suzy A and Suzy E — who really want to know more about their local government. Specifically, they want to know what their city is doing to repair streets and roads in their neighborhood.

Anytown, like most local governments, has taken the first steps towards sharing its finances with the public by posting its budget book, financial statements, and other reports to the city website. Suzy A dutifully boots up her computer, goes to the city’s website, and starts clicking through various documents, looking for the answer to her question.

After 20 minutes, she gets frustrated and decides to pick up the phone — she calls the City Manager’s office, but after 10 minutes of waiting, finds out she needs to call the Department of Transportation. Three calls later, she gives up without answers.

Now, let’s look at Suzy E. Evergreen has published its financial information on an interactive dashboard that anyone can view. In a few clicks, Suzy E navigates to a map of her city and a breakdown of street repairs by neighborhood. She sees which streets the city repaired and which ones they’re currently working on. More significantly, she learns that her city is working hard to share more information with citizens like her.


Leading public agencies across the world are achieving amazing results by following Evergreen’s approach — combining open financial data with new technologies to inform citizens, empower analysts, and modernize processes.

In Socrata’s new ebook, “Opening the Books: Three Challenges That Governments Are Solving With Open Financial Data,” we highlight three examples of governments putting their financial data to work.

We learn how Boston is building civic engagement and public trust; how Los Angeles is improving internal controls and public administration; and how Davenport is reducing its public records requests and improving transparency.

Governments across the country are choosing to open the books and use their open financial data to solve key challenges — and we can’t wait to see what our Socrata partners will do next!


Download the eBook and learn more!

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