In his recent State of the State address, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he would be looking at several initiatives to make New York’s finances and public business dealings more transparent. New York has now launched the first step toward that goal with the release of its open budget portal. According to the website, OpenBudget.ny.gov, will provide users with information about how the budget is allocated and historical budget messages from previous governors dating back to 1954.
Open Budget is a first step in Open New York, an initiative outlined in the Governor’s 2013 State of the State address, which will use technology to promote transparency, improve government performance, and enhance citizen engagement.
In a welcome move, the budget information is offered in machine readable raw data format, along with tools and charts to make that information more understandable. In the announcement of the portal, the state notes that they purposefully released higher value data sets in an effort to provide useful information to the public, officials, and the media. These distinctions are notable, as CivSource has reported, many cities and states which have embraced open data have done so in name only, reducing interesting although rarely usable datasets. Those that are useable have been for things like transportation or potholes, rather than the real inner workings of government.
The tools included in this portal will allow users to look up specific appropriations, budgeted and actual spend amounts, historical data and capital appropriations.
“Under the Governor’s leadership, the Division of the Budget can play an important role in opening government and bringing information to the public as part of the Governor’s Open New York initiative. Making budget data available to the public will foster productive engagement with State government, and I look forward to seeing the innovations borne through this initiative,” said Budget Director Robert L. Megna.