Cities open-source fiscal data via OpenGov

Cities open-source fiscal data via OpenGov

The OpenGov platform has been gaining traction as a tool for governments to demonstrate their transparency by providing better access to government spending data in a user-friendly, digital format.

This month, Minneapolis and Pittsburgh, have opened their books to the public using OpenGov. 

The move by both cities is being viewed as “unprecedented” given the abundance of information the public now has access to.  Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges believes open-sourcing financial information is a “big leap forward” for financial transparency. “Making this data available online in an easily accessible format will not only result in a more informed public, but will also help city leaders and staff digest complex financial information to help run the city better,”

The user-friendly OpenGov format lets anyone view Minneapolis’s long-term budget trends and evaluate spending on projects and funding for government programs without filing Freedom of Information Act Requests.  The platform can be accessed through the city’s website or directly at https://minneapolismn.opengov.com/.

Pittsburgh residents can better understand how their government spends through graphs and visualizations from the Fiscal Focus Pittsburgh platform powered by OpenGov.  Government employees will also benefit from the simplified data analysis because they will be able to share and view budgetary information more seamlessly.

Both cities are providing information regarding their 2015 budget as well as data pertaining to budgets from years previous.  Such transparency will enable those interested in compiling and comparing information from years of government spending.  Furthermore, frequently-asked-questions sections point users in the right direction if they are lost or simply don’t know where to start looking for information. 

"Fiscal Focus Pittsburgh gives Pittsburgh taxpayers a detailed view of how their tax dollars are being spent," city controller Michael Lamb said. "This platform takes the online monthly expenditure and revenue reports the Controller's office has been making available to the public for the last several years and makes the information more user-friendly and available for the public's use."

Pittsburgh and Minneapolis join a growing number of cities using the OpenGov platform. More than 250 cities, counties, state agencies, school systems and special districts across the country leverage the OpenGov platform to access, analyze, and visualize financial data, the company said.

About the Author

Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.

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