Open data making a splash in Ohio, Cincinnati


Ohio is making a name nationally for its efforts to open government records to public scrutiny.

Government Technology magazine, which provides "solutions for state and local government," published a story yesterday about a new initiative coming to Ohio's budget transparency site OhioCheckbook.com, which already offers 3,900-plus local governments — townships, cities, counties, school districts and more — a chance to place revenues and expenditures online free of charge.

The new concept rolls out in June and will allow citizens to track local government revenues and expenditures via interactive graphs, which the story says will "illustrate not only a bird's eye view of a budget but also the granular details of check-by-check spending. Highlights include top earning government contractors, highest paid officials and revenue consumption by departments."

Last month Ohio was ranked #1 in the country for financial transparency by consumer advocacy group U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), thanks to the launch of OhioCheckbook.com in late 2014. Ohio received a grade of A+ one year after getting a D-, and PIRG Senior Policy Analyst Phineas Baxandall says the new online portal looks like something one would expect from a successful tech company, not a government agency.

Back in Cincinnati, yesterday also marked the launch of the city's high-profile effort at transparency, Open Data Cincinnati.

"Open Data Cincinnati is about more than just stats, numbers and bar charts," City Manager Harry Black said in a press release announcing the online portal's launch. "This is about the City opening itself up to the people we serve on a daily basis."

Black says he wants to establish Cincinnati as a national model for using data analytics to make city government more efficient and effective.

Read the full Government Technology story here.
 

Read more articles by John Fox.

John Fox is an experienced freelance writer and editor who served as managing editor of Soapbox from December 2014 to August 2016.
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