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Baltimore County expands open data portal to include county spending data ‘down to the individual check’

Baltimore County has added a new “Open Checkbook” tool to its online open budget platform, allowing users to parse through county spending down to the individual check level for the last fiscal year.

The open budget portal has also been updated to show the most recent expenditures from fiscal 2020 compared to the adopted budget amounts that year.

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“Our residents deserve to know exactly how their money is spent, and this new tool will bring an unprecedented level of transparency to county spending,” County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. said in a statement.

The expansion is a continuation of Olszewski’s push to make county data more easily available to the public, one of his campaign pledges when he ran for office more than two years ago. In 2019, the county launched an interactive budget platform allowing users to search for specific programs, services or departments, breaking down figures in the adopted operating and capital budgets and revenue.

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The new “Open Checkbook” tool gives more detail about county finances, including payments to vendors made in fiscal 2020 and for which services and projects they were paid.

Last year Olszewski’s administration launched BCSTAT, a management program that publicizes data collected from county agencies that drives decision-making.

The Democrat has said he wants his administration to hold itself accountable and that actions that improve transparency, like publishing open budget tools, help with that.

The county has also launched an interactive crime data dashboard and an online portal that publishes instances of use of force by police and the number and disposition of complaints made against police officers without naming them.

There’s also several downloadable raw data-sets related to different government functions and services.

The “Open Checkbook” tool can be viewed at checkbook.baltimorecountymd.gov.

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