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Budgets / Communities / Data / Municipal government / OpenBaltimore

Baltimore City’s Open Budget dashboard is now live

The City launched a new data tool that makes the proposed budget for fiscal year 2022 easier to digest.

The FY 2022 Police budget, as shown on Open Budget. (Screenshot)

A new digital tool is making Baltimore City budget allocation data available, and aiming to offer it in an easily digestible format for residents.

Open Budget was launched on Friday by the City’s Bureau of the Budget and Management Research.

The tool allows users to see data on the City’s operating budget, or the personnel and annual facility costs, and the capital budget, which are funds for major improvements to facilities and infrastructure. The data shows actual budgetary expenditures for fiscal year 2020 and the adopted appropriations for the 2021 and 2022 fiscal years.

The dashboard provides a snapshot of the spending plan, with clean, bold numbers that can be broken down at a glance. Pie charts detail where the funds for a specific agency are coming from, and where funds are expected to be sent. The data visualization elements only apply to the fiscal year 2022 budget. To look at data for the 2021 or 2020 fiscal years, users must scroll down and navigate the line items. But given the City’s approach to open data tools, increased functionality could be on the horizon.

As Baltimore City Chief Data Officer Justin Elszasz told about his design philosophy on creating new dashboards and datasets for the City a few weeks ago, “Over the next couple of weeks, I’m sure whatever we launch is not going to be perfect, and that’s fine to me. I’m more interested in getting stuff out into the world and seeing how people use it.”

The budget tool follows the release of Open Checkbook, a data tool that allows residents to track spending in real time.

Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.
Companies: City of Baltimore

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