Placer aims for more citizen engagement with new transparency website and financial reporting tool
February 25, 2016
Placer County’s finances have always been an open book. Now that book is digital, interactive and written so everyone can understand it - not just the accountants.
Today, Placer County launched a new transparency page on its website, offering searchable, sortable and customizable looks at how the county spends its taxpayer dollars, along with a one-stop shop for the most sought-after public information. The new financial database is powered by OpenGov, a financial reporting service used by many government agencies throughout the country. The goal is to make budget information not just accessible but useful, so residents can better understand, and therefore influence, how county government runs.
“Prior to today, any resident could go on our website and access our budget, but it’s a hard document to get into and really understand what it means,” said David Boesch, Placer County executive officer. “What we’ve done is taken that data and converted it into useful information, so that people really understand what their government is doing, what kind of results we’re accomplishing and we’ve made it more user-friendly.”
Visitors can now quickly and easily browse county spending by departments or expense type and download it all either as raw data or in simple, beautiful graphics and charts. Users can personalize their views, if they prefer bar charts over line graphs or pie charts or percentage graphs. OpenGov links with county’s existing financial management software, so publishing the data there doesn’t take extra effort by county staff.
Placer’s OpenGov site is just one feature available on the transparency website, which also features easy access to county laws and regulations, jobs and salary information, and opportunities to participate in local governance.
“Citizens have a right to see how we’re spending their money and our transparency page helps us honor that,” Boesch said. “The true value of it, though, is empowering more citizen engagement, so our main hope here is that our residents will use this information to partner with us as we all work together to improve our communities.”
Visit the new transparency website at placer.ca.gov/transparency.