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Budgets / Data / Municipal government

Flip through Baltimore County’s checkbook with this data tool

Baltimore County Open Checkbook expands open data with a look at what vendors get paid for public services, and how much.

Baltimore County has a new digital tool that with data on government spending down to the individual check level.

The Open Checkbook tool is part of an open budget platform that the county initially released last year. Using digital tools, the county is seeking to bring more transparency into how it spends public funds. This is aligned with the move toward open data in government circles over the last decade.

“Our residents deserve to know exactly how their money is spent, and this new tool will bring an unprecedented level of transparency to County spending,” County Executive Johnny Olszewski said in a statement. “Transparency and accountability lead to an effective government, which is why we will continue to seek new ways to shine a light on Baltimore County operations.”

Check it out

Open Checkbook is designed to allow users to see the vendors that are paid by the County for various projects and services, as well as how much they’re paid. It launched this week with data for fiscal year 2020, which shows about $922 million in expenditures.

This complements the Open Budget tool released last year, which shows data on budgets for revenue, operating expenditures and capital projects. This tool also had some updates, with data for actual expenditures in fiscal year 220 that allow users to compare what was spent with the budgeted amount.

Under Olszewski, the County is moving to use data and make it available with an eye toward accountability. Crime and policing data dashboards were launched, along with raw datasets. Earlier this year, it also launched BCSTAT, a performance management program that uses data internally. This applies a local government model which was pioneered in Baltimore city.

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