Explore Your State Budget was launched today by the Empire Center for New York State Policy / Manhattan Institute. The new site is a welcome addition to the growing list of online tools which help the public understand how the government is spending tax dollars. Per the press release, the downloadable data on Explore Your State Budget includes
disbursement and receipts items from the governor’s proposed Executive Budget for fiscal 2014. It also includes actual results, estimates and projections for major spending and tax categories dating back to 2011 and stretching out to fiscal 2017, along with a time series of total annual disbursements dating back to 1984 and tax receipts dating back to 1976.
The well designed site also includes handy explanations of terms and titles, and “Special Features” which add additional data about agency activities. The new app builds on the Empire Center’s innovative use of Information Technology to increase government transparency. The group, which is often described as a “conservative think tank,” broke new ground with SeeThroughNY which publishes online government payrolls, pensions, contracts, and now, the budget.
Ensuring Open Budget NY Will Succeed Going Forward
- Post newly announced Financial Plan budget data in a machine readable format as soon as it is made public. When a budget is proposed, enacted or updated it should appear in a machine readable format on Open Budget NY.
- Convert historical budget data into a machine readable format by the end of 2013. (This is a cool opportunity for the civic hacking community to work with the governor’s office.)
- Make sure the Open Budget NY site continues to evolve in response to recommendations from users in and out of government.
Reinvent Albany strongly applauds today’s launch of Checkbook 2.0. See our statement of support below, and today’s article in the New York Times. We will post more on Checkbook 2.0’s many excellent features in the days ahead.
“Checkbook 2.0 is probably the most powerful fiscal transparency website in the United States, maybe the world. It’s a civic technology homerun for New Yorkers. It hugely increases the usefulness of the city’s Financial Management System to watchdog groups, journalists, and allows the public to cast an independent eye on city spending. And, hugely to the comptroller’s credit, Checkbook 2.0 is open source software — which means governments and transparency groups across the country can reuse it to shine a light on their city or state.”
John Kaehny, executive director of Reinvent Albany and co-chair NYC Transparency Working Group.
Reinvent Albany applauds Governor Cuomo for launching Open Budget NY, which is an important step for open government in New York, and a smart first step in his newly announced Open NY initiative. The budget is the most important document our government produces. But until today, it’s been difficult for even experts to work with and fully understand. Open Budget NY changes that. The budget will now be machine readable, and easy to download and analyze in a spreadsheet. This means that New Yorkers — probably journalists, and budget experts in businesses and civic groups — will be able to rapidly crunch the numbers in the budget, and draw their own conclusions about what is being proposed and debated.
Governor Cuomo also deserves credit for posting archival budget data going back to 1954, and for pledging to work with NGOs, academics and civic hackers to make that data machine readable. This archival data will allow budget analysis that provides a much clearer picture of how spending and revenue have changed over time. Beyond today’s budget news, Reinvent Albany is glad to see Governor Cuomo taking the lead in efforts to open up our state government with affordable, everyday, information technology. Technology — smart phones, iPads, apps, the Internet, Wi-Fi, social networking, online commerce and interactive mapping — is transforming the everyday life and work of New Yorkers. These same affordable tools should also be transforming our state government.