LA Open Data Program Embeds Transparency

June 05, 2019 by Melissa Crowe

LA Open Data Program Embeds Transparency

Photo credit: Chris Heald/Flickr

Los Angeles Controller Ron Galperin often says open data and transparency go hand-in-hand.

But, from his vantage as chief accountant for the second largest city in the U.S., he takes open data one step further and uses it to drive policy change and transform the city. His efforts to identify and put to use unspent city funds has helped the city address issues around employee pay and overtime management, as well as issues directly impacting the public's quality-of-life, such as finding resources to help people experiencing homelessness.

At the time he introduced the city to open data, the IT department had slim staff for data work and almost nobody equipped to create an open data portal, according to information from the city. Galperin worked with Socrata to introduce Control Panel LA as the city's first-ever open data site.

The City of Los Angeles is a Tyler Excellence Award winner for its use of the Socrata data platform. Read more on this government's data journey:  

How did the Office of the Controller execute the overall project?

The Office of the Controller migrated data from internal and legacy systems to provide open data on the city's finances, including balances and details of all city funds, city revenues, city employee payrolls, contracts, payments, and expenditures. The finance applications were used to create supporting Payroll Explorer and Checkbook LA for visualizations.

What was the outcome, and how did that achievement advance your organizational goals?

The introduction of open data encourages trust in government and provides our community with resources for understanding our city and conducting analyses for insights on how we can improve. We have been able to incorporate open data into decision making and demonstrate the value of data for addressing specific issues. Furthermore, the public-facing data serves as an invitation for community partners, such as academic institutions, to more directly contribute to the transformation of government, via open data projects and analyses. Open data indirectly widens the capacity of the city as we and our public stakeholders co-develop data-driven solutions. This November, we partnered with the UCLA Anderson School of Management to provide large-scale data from the Socrata platform to students for a data-thon aimed at finding analysis- and prediction-based approaches to one of Los Angeles's most pressing challenges: payroll and overtime payment management.

How can your approach benefit peers using Tyler products and services?

Peers can benefit from the practice of using events to promote open data and build momentum toward data-driven decision-making. By giving everyone the opportunity to learn from your open data, you facilitate the communication of your goals to your community, the flow of feedback about what works and what's missing, the strengthening of external partnerships, and the potential for more comprehensive policies informed by analysis and insights. Transparency is best supported by collaboration.

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