In an effort to provide complete and clear financial information, the City of Suwanee maintains an open data budget website, ensuring that city financial data is easily accessible and understandable for citizens.
The city leveraged Seattle-based Socrata’s financial transparency suite of applications to publish their online budget data quickly, economically, and in a consumer-friendly way. Rather than wading through hundreds of pages of scanned documents of legal and financial information, citizens and staff see financial data contextualized in charts, graphs, and images are attractive, navigable, and easy to understand.
We’re big believers in authenticity and transparency in government, and that certainly includes our financials. Our citizens should be able to easily access and understand our spending. At its most simplified, this is the taxpayers’ money, and it’s their right to know that we are being fiscally responsible for their dollars. The open data website is incredibly intuitive, and allows citizens to dig as far as their interests take them.
The open budget program replaced our monthly financial reports for departments and council. It allows departments and council to obtain current data in a simple, non-technical manner.
If our mayor likes looking at information as a bar graph, he can do it. The city clerk prefers a pie chart? She can do it. Planning director wants to know what has happened over the past five years? It can easily be done. The ability to obtain current information in different formats helps decision makers be successful in monitoring financial data, understanding trends, and identify budgetary problems before they occur.
This program brings life to the city’s static citizen operating budget: it makes the numbers interactive and shows the annual progress of collections and expenditures. Prior, the city would produce the budget in brief but the document and numbers where not updated as reviewable presentation for citizens to easily review and understand. This system provides the transparency of how the budget is performing on an ongoing basis, not just a snapshot of a moment in time.