Data & Insights Innovators
June 06, 2019 by
Government leaders at all levels face difficult decisions around investing public resources and ensuring that agencies and officials are accountable for how they spend taxpayer dollars. They also grapple with how to effectively access and use the massive amounts of data that exists but is siloed; locked behind gatekeepers or in static spreadsheets.
To leverage actionable data, improve transparency, and break down silos, exemplar state, city, and county departments are innovating in their use of modern technology. In 2019, the following rose to the top, taking Tyler Excellence Award honors at the industry’s largest conference, Connect 2019.
The State of Michigan’s Open Performance program makes cross-agency operational and financial data available. The information is accessible via automated dashboards, which include 100 outcome measures and millions of rows of open data. The cross-department outcome measures come from individual departmental scorecards and serve to illustrate to stakeholders what departments are doing to resolve key issues in the state.
Not only do these dashboards educate and engage the public, they support leaders in their decision-making processes. Overall, the program has fostered a culture of openness and transparency while also driving the state’s strategic goals for the future, including economic development, education, and infrastructure.
The Pittsburgh City Controller’s Office uses the Socrata Public Finance platform to provide access to historic general ledger and budget data, year-over-year trends, and checkbook level spending. The data is available in multiple forms, such as tables and graphs that are exportable as images or as spreadsheets for analyzing, presenting or sharing. The information is usable for individuals with no financial background as well as financial analysts.
In addition to providing clear graphics around this key financial information, Pittsburgh also uses the platform to tell a narrative around its financial health. This keeps the public as well as staff informed and helps maintain constituents’ trust in their government.
The Los Angeles Office of the Controller is pioneering in its use of data to drive policy change. The city’s open data focuses on finances, including balances and details of all city funds, revenues, employee payrolls, contracts, payments, and expenditures. By identifying unspent funds, the city has improved the public’s quality of life by, for example, using found money to help address important community issues such as homelessness.
Public-facing data has also served as an invitation for community partners to join with the city in creating data-driven solutions. A partnership with the UCLA Anderson School of Management, for example, aimed at finding analysis- and prediction-based approaches to one of Los Angeles’s most pressing challenges: payroll and overtime management.
Congratulations to these pioneering offices that are providing agencies around the country with roadmaps for greater transparency, smarter decision-making, and improved communities. Learn more about their stories: