McKinney, Texas First Municipality to Earn 5-Star Texas Transparency Stars Rating
POPULATION: 155,000 | AGENCY TYPE: City | ANNUAL BUDGET: $275 Million
Reporting on McKinney’s debt obligations in OpenGov helped the City earn the Debt Obligations star in the State Comptroller’s Texas Transparency Stars program.
The staff also set their own internal organizational goals. Among them: being the first local government in the state to achieve all five transparency stars from the State Comptroller. “Having these goals started us down the road of offering our information online and led us to use the OpenGov platform,” Assistant City Manager Trevor Minyard said. “We didn’t want to just present information. We also wanted it to be relevant and easy to understand.”
OpenGov Facilitates 5-Star Achievement
The Comptroller’s program sets forth rigorous standards for financial transparency and recognizes local governments that provide easy online access to important financial data. McKinney earned stars in the areas of Traditional Finances, Contracts and Procurement, Economic Development, Public Pensions, and Debt Obligations.
While the Transparency Stars program encourages greater access to information in those five categories, it also emphasizes that governments should make that information easier for citizens to understand and analyze. For example, to qualify for a star, check registers cannot merely be made available online. They must also be searchable and allow users to easily perform basic analysis on the data.
Using the OpenGov platform streamlined McKinney’s ability to make information available and usable, in line with the program’s requirements. “Our partnership with OpenGov really helped us achieve the stars. We accomplished a good bit of the first star, for instance, through references to our OpenGov platform,” Minyard noted.
That first star, Traditional Finances, encompass all the activities most governments undertake. It is the foundational step, and all entities have to meet the requirements for this first star before applying for the other four. “We needed to show monthly reports, and we easily provided the Comptroller’s office with the link to our interactive monthly financials,” he explained. “Through OpenGov, we were able to similarly reference links to interactive vendor check registers as well as payroll reports.”