Tennessee has launched a new transparency portal. Unlike a number of state offered data dumps, the portal – Transparent Tennessee includes budget information and a searchable checkbook of state transactions. The portal existed before, but was recently overhauled at the behest of Governor Haslam.
In addition to the searchable checkbook, users can get information on vendor payments, agency expenses and travel reimbursements. The data are offered in an interactive format for less technical users, and the raw data can also be downloaded.
Links are also available to state audit information as well as a database of state salaries. The portal and the information is a welcome development given the format and accessibility of the information. A number of states, even those with open data policies have fallen behind offering high value datasets like budgetary and expense information.
The next question for Transparent Tennessee is how often the governor and state agencies provide updates to the data. The homepage includes the current plan for fiscal year 2014-2015 which suggests at least yearly data should be available.
At a glance, even casual users can see how the revenues for the state come in and are divvied up among budget items. The governor has said that transparency and accountability are important for government that aims to be effective and taxpayer-focused.