Ohio’s Local Governments Open Checkbooks to Citizens
First state-wide effort to bring open finances to every local governing entity kicks off
OpenGov was founded on a simple premise: that technology can transform the way governments do business. Since our founding in 2012, we have worked toward this goal by building a cloud-based platform that makes data easy to manage for government officials and administrators and easy to understand for citizens. The OpenGov platform makes governments more efficient, and it enables citizens to be better informed.
But technology alone is not enough to fulfill our mission – our country needs government leaders who embrace technology and believe that budget transparency matters. We need leaders who are committed to giving citizens real insight into how their tax dollars are being spent and unafraid of embracing innovation.
Over the past few years, we’ve met and worked with leaders like this in cities of all sizes across the U.S. Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel is the first state government leader to launch a financial transparency effort on this scale. In April, he made an unprecedented statewide commitment to financial transparency – to bring checkbook-level spending detail to all 3,962 local government entities in the state through OhioCheckbook.com, powered by OpenGov.
Since that announcement, OpenGov has been working with local governments across Ohio to transform their financial data – often confined in static spreadsheets – into an intuitive, interactive platform. Today, 114 Ohio governments have joined the OhioCheckbook.com platform including 40 cities and villages, 32 townships, 8 counties, 32 school districts and 2 special districts. In total, these governments have put more than 6 million individual checkbook entries online representing $14.2 billion in spending. Hundreds more government entities will join them in the coming months.
With a few clicks, users can answer questions such as “how much money has the government spent in total on street lights?” or “which departments spent the most money last month?” With this initiative, Ohio is truly setting the gold standard for transparency in government spending, making millions of local government checkbook entries available to citizens in an easy-to-use digital format.
With OpenGov Checkbook technology, citizens and administrators alike can search millions of individual checkbook entries in a fast, digital format. Here are just a few of the features:
- Faster search. Users can search by a specific department, date, vendor, or use the Google-style search bar, which will return any value in the report that matches the entered text. Keywords may be searched by simply clicking on the term – one of the most popular ways to explore the data.
- Clear data visualization for better insights. Interactive data visualizations make it easier to analyze historical trends and compare spending across vendors and departments. For example, users can quickly explore what a department spends on a particular vendor year over year, and then drill into a specific vendor and see the actual expenses.
- More ways to share. The share menu enables users to share their filter selection by email or on social media. The data may also be downloaded for further analysis.
- Visualize each expense as a “check”. Individual expenses can be visualized as they would in a printed check format. Pull up the check representation by simply clicking a row and selecting ‘View Check Details’.
Internally, the OpenGov platform helps administrators manage their operations. By moving government financial data into a searchable online platform, public administrators can better analyze historical trends, manage current year operations, and plan for the future. Like Treasurer Mandel, local government leaders across the country are recognizing these benefits and joining the movement for greater financial transparency and efficiency.
OpenGov is proud to share in this vision. Already working with more than 500 governments nationwide – including cities like Miami, Minneapolis, and Pittsburgh – we are excited and honored to further expand our platform in the state of Ohio.