Gotham Gazette: Technology is Opening Government

March 11, 2013

From David King in this morning’s Gotham Gazette, Technology Helping to Pry Open Government:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to unveil a major open data initiatives as early as this week — Sunshine Week — coming on the heels of the announcement earlier this year ofOpenBudget.ny.gov, a portal that allows citizens to look up the state’s finances.

Later this year, the state Comptroller’s office will roll out a system that allows New Yorkers to see every check issued by the government and to follow exactly who is doing business with the state down to the penny. The system, tentatively titled “Checkbook,” is the next step in New York’s slow but steady embrace of open government and open data. It is modeled after city Comptroller John Liu’s Checkbook 2.0 site that was introduced earlier this year and allows users to track city spending in a similar fashion.

John Kaehny of Reinvent Albany, a group focused on improving data access, said that a lot of states are creating open data portals but, “They are very superficial. A lot of their open government portals and follow-money websites are very weak,” he said of other state’s open data platforms.

Kaehny thinks that New York is positioned to be able to lead the open data movement but it isn’t quite there yet. “I think New York is incredibly good in some areas and middling in other areas. But the trend is very good,” he said.