The dashboard of Checkbook NYC.
Talk of demanding Baltimore city government to audit its more than 50 city agencies surfaced earlier this month at CreateBaltimore event, at which entrepreneurs, artists, business leaders, educators and members of the city’s tech community gathered for the third annual unconference.
During the afternoon of Feb. 16, around 25 sat in room 302 of Johns Hopkins’ Krieger Hall for a session on city government accountability and citizen engagement led largely by Chris Delaporte, the director of the city’s Department of Recreation and Parks in the 1980s, and tech-activist Robert Wray.
The matter has infiltrated the public consciousness of Baltimore this month in particular because of a financial forecast, commissioned by the city, that predicted a budget deficit of $745 million over the next decade.
A number of ideas were batted around with respect to increasing the level of transparency, through technology, within city government — one impromptu proposal called for an online dashboard cataloging each time the city spent more than one dollar on any number of products or services. In a subsequent blog post, Wray considered what might happen if Baltimore city implemented something similar to Checkbook NYC, which provides overviews of New York City’s total spending broken down by contracts and payroll.
As Wray writes:
It’s time for Baltimore citizens to expect more from our city. Before we give up basics like trash pickups, pay cuts for fire fighters, or rec centers, we should ask for the basic fundamental data about why we need to give up these things when we have some of the highest tax rates in the country and the least insight into where our tax dollars are going. [more]
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