xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Baltimore kicks off new database tool as ‘first step’ to transparency on city spending

Baltimore officials rolled out a new online tool Thursday to help residents keep track of city spending.

Known as Open Checkbook, the web-based database offers information on the city’s spending and allows users to break down information by agency and vendor.

Advertisement

Democratic Mayor Brandon Scott, who made the tool part of his goals for his first 100 days in office, announced the program during a news conference at Morgan State University. Flanked by Democratic Comptroller Bill Henry, City Administrator Chris Shorter and Chief Data Officer Justin Elszasz, Scott said the database is “just the beginning” of his efforts to make city government more transparent and accountable to the public.

“Building trust demands that we devote ourselves to being responsible stewards of city resources and the citizens’ hard-earned tax dollars,” Scott said.

Advertisement
Advertisement

The program allows the public to see top-line city spending, as well as search by contractor. Charts show the trajectory of spending over time and spending by category, such as professional services, utilities and repairs. Top vendors are also ranked.

Initial data on the site is as current as the 2020 fiscal year, which ended in June. Elszasz said he expects to update the site quarterly and add data from the most recent fiscal year.

Officials are also working to build a more mobile-friendly version of the site that they expect to launch in the next four to six weeks, Elszasz said. Officials are looking for public input on site to help make improvements and continue to make it more user-friendly, he said.

Henry said it was appropriate that the site was being launched in a classroom because city officials have a responsibility to educate the public, he said.

Advertisement

“The people of Baltimore City are our bosses,” he said. “You deserve to give input on how we’re spending your money.”

Henry said he is working with city officials to improve the flow of information to the system, some of which officials said had to be manually transferred into the system for this first version.

“Today, we’re launching a process. This is a process to be more transparent about city finances that is long-awaited and sorely needed,” Henry said. “This checkbook is the first step.”

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement