Santa Fe Rebuilds Citizen Trust With OpenGov

August 11, 2016 – Brandon Camhi


Santa Fe pleases residents and tourists alike with bustling farmers’ markets, historic trails, and delightful art galleries. Santa Fe provides residents these benefits alongside a high quality of life. But these successes don’t occur on their own. From ensuring clean water flows through pipes to extinguishing fires, Santa Fe’s government strives to provide citizens with the best possible service.

And this week, Santa Fe’s leaders added a critical service to its operations. A service that builds citizens’ trust in their civic institutions. A service that reinforces Santa Fe’s efforts to be a government of, by, and for the people. A service that connects City Hall to its “just Google it” constituents. This week, Santa Fe launched a comprehensive transparency website that gives citizens unprecedented access to – and understanding of – how Santa Fe spends public money.

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OpenGov’s Santana Shorty shows the City of Santa Fe how to use OpenGov.

It’s no secret Santa Fe needed to rebuild some public trust. The city faced a budget deficit of $15 million and was forced to slash services. Officials struggled to explain both the deficit and issues surrounding a $30 million bond program for park improvement. Mayor Javier Gonzales described during a press conference how City Hall grappled with a “public not really knowing what led to the deficit.”

Santa Fe’s leaders could have done nothing. But by refusing to act, the government would have reinforced the apathy and mistrust that cloud too many citizens’ views of their civic institutions. This outcome was unacceptable for Santa Fe’s elected officials and administration.

The city’s leaders believe in the power of technology. They believe that using innovations that transformed industries from healthcare, to commerce, to finance, Santa Fe can rebuild the trust it lost over the next year and give citizens and staff unprecedented insights into financials and performance. And we agree with them. That’s why we are thrilled to partner with the city of Santa Fe.

The city’s transparency portal has all the marks of an effective site. Citizens can explore several years of budget and actual data through interactive charts and visualizations. Since OpenGov understands the city’s financial accounting structure, citizens can pivot across funds and departments with the click of a mouse. Santa Fe also recognizes financial data can be daunting. So the city took full advantage of OpenGov’s Saved Views capabilities that directly answer common questions such as “Where does the money go by department?” and “What are the city’s historical expenses by expense type?”.

The future looks bright for Santa Fe’s government. Transparency alone won’t overcome deficits or restore services, but without public trust, any sustainable solution would be impossible. We are committed to working with Santa Fe as this innovative city expands its use of OpenGov and uses data to make evidence-based decisions on the toughest problems.

Congratulations Santa Fe, and we’re looking forward to what comes next!

Visit Santa Fe’s OpenGov site

Category: Customer Story