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City News

City of Tuscaloosa Works to Fulfill Financial Transparency Mission

Tuscaloosa, Ala. -- The City of Tuscaloosa recently made a step in becoming even more financially transparent to taxpayers by partnering with Socrata, a software company focused on democratizing access to public data.

This effort will allow the City of Tuscaloosa to better fulfill Mayor Walter Maddox’s core value of being open, efficient and effective by making information more available to citizens, allowing taxpayers to see where funds are budgeted and how funds are ultimately spent.

 “We are strengthening accountability by digitally opening the doors of City Hall,” Maddox said. “This is just the sort of innovative service I expected when I announced the organizational restructuring plans last fall. Our goal with this project is to improve public trust and citizen engagement by simplifying government. This is a huge leap for Tuscaloosa to be more open, efficient and effective when serving the people of Tuscaloosa, but it’s only the first of many.”

Socrata’s financial transparency portals help governments publish budget and spending data quickly, economically and in a consumer-friendly way. Rather than wading through hundreds of pages of scanned financial information, citizens see budget and spending data in a consumable format. The charts, graphs and images are searchable and easy to understand.

The City currently publishes accounts payable and purchase card information online but this project will make information more easily accessible and understood. Data published not only include detailed budgets adopted by the City Council but also real-time financial transactions such as the accounts payable and credit card registers.

“As this effort evolves there are numerous datasets and types of information that can be made available” said Chuck Crocker, chief information officer for the City. “And, it should allow the City of Tuscaloosa to have a canvas on which to paint our story showing citizens what we are doing and how we do it.”

City staff will work with Socrata over the next few months to develop and coordinate information across all City departments. The site, which will link directly from Tuscaloosa.com, will go live by January 2017.