According to an Aug. 2 press release, the initiative will allow Houstonians to track how the city is spending money. It will include publishing relevant, accessible datasets about the city’s budget, checkbook and payroll with interactive data visualizations intended to make it easier for the public to understand the city’s financial activities.
“Open finance allows citizen advocates to stay informed and gain access to the same information stakeholders and government leaders use to make decisions in the day-to-day operations of local government,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said in the release.
Specifically, the data is meant to help measure policy efforts, increase efficiency in government operations and processes, provide deeper analytical insights, and improve collaboration between citizens and elected officials, the release said.
The initiative will be rolled out in three phases. In July, Open Budget became the first of the three initiatives established, showing revenue and expenditure data depicted as both what was budgeted and what was actually spent.
The second phase, Open Payroll, will be established in October to provide employee payroll data.
The third phase, coming in January, is Open Checkbook. It will allow residents to view detailed expenditure-level payment information, such as vendors and other recipients of city payments.
“This initiative is another significant step toward improving public engagement and building awareness of the city’s financial activities,” Turner said.