Using OpenGov, Muscatine’s team communicates its budgeted revenue allocation using dynamic visuals.
Muscatine transitioned from a paper budget book to a digital PDF version, then to a searchable online PDF, and finally adopted OpenGov to publish its budget data in an interactive format. “Now we have all of our financial information online – not only the budget and year-to-date expenditures, but an open checkbook and many other features so everyone can see what’s going on,” Mandsager said.
Everyone included the Council members, who benefitted from real-time demonstrations of current and historical spending. When one Council member, for example, questioned what appeared to be a substantial expense, in real-time, the finance staff was able to show that the expenditure was $80,000, not $1 Million. “You could show the actual expense and also how much we had spent on that line historically, so it helped to tell our story,” Lueck said.
Local newspaper reporters also used the platform to research an article on legal expenses and gather accurate information without active assistance from Muscatine’s staff. “Whatever the topic may be, it lets people dig into the information themselves, and they don’t have to rely on us,” Lueck said. “It certainly saves us time, but equally important, that information comes directly from our financial software into the system, so everyone has access to that raw data and can draw their own conclusions or ask better-informed questions.”