For years, government finance has been limited to government accounts offices, far out of the public’s eye. It took government employees days to access any information that a member of the public wanted. As a result, government transparency when it comes to finances has been low. This is why it was easy for situations such the infamous City of Bell Scandal to occur. City officials misappropriated public money, enriching themselves greatly in the process.
One startup is looking to change all of that and usher in an era of Government transparency and accountability. OpenGov, started in 2012, provides a cloud-based financial analysis platform to state and local governments. The platform transforms numbers from ledgers into readable charts, trends and other informative forms. Government officials can track financial data over time and make smart decisions from the trend. Perhaps even better, they can share this data with the public to create transparency.
What does OpenGov Do?
• Track expenses
OpenGov helps governments track how they are doing in relation to their budgets. By tracking their expenses through OpenGov, it is easy to see whether the finances are within budget range, or there is overspending. Expenses can even be tracked by department, which is important in creating individual accountability for all departments.
• A simpler and easier budget making process
With their huge and varied expenses, it can be hard for state and local governments to create an effective budget. With OpenGov, not only is the budget making process made much easier, governments can share the completed budget with other departments or the public.
• Easier and faster data management
Governments generate a large amount of financial data which can be challenging to manage. This is why, traditionally, a request for specific information can take long before being fulfilled. Using OpenGov, governments have an easy time managing data. If a request for information is made, by either an official or a member of the public, creating and sharing comprehensive reports takes just a few clicks.
What this Means for Governments and the Public
Already, over 250 local governments have opted to use OpenGov’s financial analysis services. There are also many other government entities including school districts and agencies that have signed up with the startup.
Seeing the massive reception it has been given within Government circles, the impact of OpenGov will be tremendous both to the governments and to the public.
For one, management of public finances by governments will be easier and more effective than ever before. Officials can track data, observe certain trends and make informed decisions based on those trends. Governments will benefit from saved time, saved money and better trust with the public. They will also be able to serve their constituents better, with much more efficient and cost-effective service delivery.
Secondly, it will be harder for government officials to engage in any financial fraud due to the openness of the platform. Issues such as poor government spending will also be avoided. The accountability brought about by OpenGov will force governments to be wise and honest in their spending knowing that they are being watched.
For the public, this is truly a new era, one that few people imagined. Having the chance to be a part of your government’s financial management is a tremendous opportunity. It is democracy at its best. Citizens can see what the government’s budget is, track expenses and revenue throughout the year and quickly obtain specific information.
No longer will people have to worry about where their taxes are going and whether they are just filling up politicians’ pockets. OpenGov brings the government to you, opening up windows into the government. It gives power to the people.
Bridging Technology and Government Transparency
It is not every day that you see governments being the clients of a private company. OpenGov has made some pretty huge promises to both the public and government. The biggest of them all is that there will be a new level of openness, accountability and transparency in how the government manages public money. So far, the promise is still being fulfilled.
As more local and state governments sign up with OpenGov, expect a deeper level of collaboration between the government and its people. Trust will be built between the two, resulting in better governance.