Santa Fe unveils new budget transparency web platform

SANTA FE – Santa Fe city government has a new tool it says will increase financial transparency by giving the public unprecedented access to city budget data.

The new platform was developed by OpenGov, a Silicon Valley Cloud-based software company founded in 2012 with the aim of utilizing technology to “transform how the world analyzes and allocates public money,” according to its website. More than 1,000 city, county and state agencies, school districts and special districts in 46 states are already using OpenGov’s technology.

Mayor Javier Gonzales said during a news conference prior to Wednesday’s City County meeting that the platform, which can be accessed from the “transparency” button on the city’s website, will add “a whole new level of transparency to City Hall.”

He noted that during the budget process in which the city found itself facing a $15 million budget deficit, the data available to the public was little more than a once-a-year snapshot. The new software will allow the public to monitor the city’s expenditures and revenues in real time.

“The hope now with OpenGov is one, people will be able to look at the city’s budget and understand where resources are allocated, and two, we’ll continue to update so the public can monitor month-to-month,” the mayor said.

OpenGov’s Santana Shorty gave a brief demonstration for the benefit of news reporters and city councilors, showing how financial data can be accessed by department and displayed as line graphs, pie charts, or bar graphs, and how filters can be utilized to show, for example, revenues by department or by revenue type.

A “Help” button offers tutorials for how to use the site or contact the city directly with specific questions.

City Finance Director Oscar Rodriguez said the platform is a more efficient way to present data to the public, rather than simply providing raw numbers.

Besides making budget data more accessible to the public, the OpenGov software can also be used internally to create reports, manage the budget and share information with other employees.

The city has a three-year contract paying the company $7,900 per year.

Published: August 10, 2016