County continues progress in open government with launch of Financial Transparency Module

County continues progress in open government with launch of Financial Transparency Module
By LYNDON GERMAN, Staff writer
Jul 12, 2016, 16:36

PRINCE GEORGE – If you’ve ever wanted to know how much your local government is spending in its various departments, now’s your chance.

Prince George County recently initiated a program called the OpenGov Financial Transparency Module. OpenGov is a program which sorts and tracks monetary expenditures made by government departments in any given area.

The module was originally expected to be complete sometime in March, though there were delays, “We had to input a lot of information.” County Administrator Percy Ashcraft explained.

“We underestimated how much time it would take to log all of that data,” he noted. “Originally we planned for a February or March launch date, but we had to make sure the amounts were in the right departments, with the right information because we want to be correct.”

Eventually, all of the data was completed and uploaded and now the program is up and running. “This is something we initiated to create financial transparency,” Betsy Drewry the Prince George Finance Department director said. “It’ll really will help our citizens who want to know where they’re money is going and it’s another step for our transparent government.”

The Finance Department is primarily in charge of the program, but each department does have some input with the program, as well.

Now that the program is live residents can track the county’s budget, expenditures, revenue and expense data.

There’s a number of graphic representations to make information easier to analyze like pie charts, bar graphs, and featured reports. The program even offers tutorials for those in need of assistance.

This is all part of Prince George’s government initiative to be more transparent. Prince George has already received an ‘A’ plus rating from the American nonprofit the Sunshine Review who advocates government transparency, but the county’s progress continues.

Ashcraft is very proud and passionate of that fact and encourages his colleagues and local departments to continue to be more transparent.

“We take a lot of pride in being an open government,” Ashcraft notes. “A lot of people say they are, but we do it every day. Everything we do here the citizens have right to know how we do it. It’s not one thing you do that makes a difference, it’s everything you do.”

Ashcraft went on to tell of how receptive government officials are to residents’ phone calls, emails, and meeting with them face to face to explain to them what’s happening in their government.

Though the project took time the result is exciting. The amount of information one can track by using the new Financial Transparency Module is a good step towards a transparent government, county officials point out. Check out the OpenGov module at http://www.princegeorgecountyva.gov/ and click on the OpenGov Financial Portal button on the home page.

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By OpenGov
Published: July 12, 2016
Source: The Hopewell News