OpenGov visualizes the year's expenditure data by category.
This decentralization caused Colorado to miss important reporting deadlines for the Municipalities Continuing Disclosure Cooperation Initiative (MCDC). The initiative was implemented by the SEC in 2014 in response to investor concerns about the quality and timeliness of important financial data related to municipal bonds. But because Colorado had no singular, consolidated source of debt information, releasing accurate data to the SEC on time proved impossible.
Eventually, the SEC sanctioned Colorado for inadequate disclosure and issued a cease and desist order from committing future violations. “We had to agree that we would never fail to disclose again,” explains Stapleton. If Colorado continued to rely solely on spreadsheets and manual reconciliation, it would risk significant penalty. But if the state continued to rely solely on disparate spreadsheets and manual reconciliation of different sources to compile its reports, failure would be likely occur again.
Aside from the legal implications, Colorado’s scattered debt data made it impossible for Stapleton to answer legislators’ questions in a timely manner. He previously had to comb through multiple files and rely on colleagues in different departments for help. Despite his best efforts, he could rarely provide swift answers. Amidst one such inquiry, a prominent legislator pointed out that the Treasury was his only source for this information. Unfortunately, Stapleton could often only respond to legislators’ calls with: “I’ll call you with the answer next week.”
OpenGov Centralizes and Modernizes Colorado’s Debt Data
Colorado had no choice. It had to act. Stapleton describes how “OpenGov came along and I soon realized it would be the perfect tool to help us meet our disclosure requirements, and [avoid] a fire drill every time a legislator asks us a question.”