County Executive Matthew Meyer takes historic step to increase government transparency
Wilmington, DE – County Executive Matthew Meyer today unveiled New Castle County’s Open Checkbook (http://checkbook.nccde.org), the most comprehensive transparency initiative in county government history. This fully searchable website connects the public with detailed expenditure data across county departments and features interactive tools that allow users to browse and analyze information through maps, charts, and graphs. It provides information through a searchable database that allows users to view, sort and download information by county department, vendor, category, and fund.
“Trust in government is built on transparency,” said County Executive Meyer. “I ran for office on a commitment to making county government more transparent and the Open Checkbook delivers on that commitment. Just as you can go online and view your own personal banking expenditures, you now have that same access to expenditures made by New Castle County. I invite you to explore this site to deepen your knowledge and understanding of county government, and I encourage you to use this information to help us identify ways to provide county services more efficiently and responsively.”
Navigation through Open Checkbook is easy:
- The main page provides an overview of total county government spending, highlights spending by department, vendor, and category and features quick links that provide answers to common questions.
- The site allows visitors to view information through a summary view that features charts and graphs and in checkbook view that presents data in spreadsheet form.
- Users can drill down to view information at the individual transaction level which provides detail on vendor, amount, payment date, and fund from which each expenditure was made.
- The site features a search function that provides navigation by keyword.
- Every page on the site can be shared with others through built-in links to Facebook, Twitter and e-mail.
“Financial transparency is an important policy goal and I have strongly supported our Council-led effort to publish spending data online for more than a decade,” said County Councilman and Council Finance Committee co-chair John Cartier. “This new interactive website builds on this effort with a new powerful level of sophistication and detail that gives residents greater insight and clarity into our County finances.”
“As a member of County Council I have worked for many years to open county government records to the public, and today I am proud to partner with County Executive Meyer and support this transparency initiative,” said County Councilman Bob Weiner. “With this site we are taking another big leap forward.”
Open Checkbook is fully interactive through features that empower the public to download data to an Excel or .csv file. Additionally, data scientists and software engineers can seamlessly tap into county expenditure data through the site using Application Program Interface (API), a software tool that allows data to be easily combined with data from other sources to facilitate research and analysis.
"New Castle County’s Open Checkbook provides the community with an opportunity to see how their local government is using its resources,” said Ryan Harrington, Co-Organizer of Open Data Delaware. “The transition from PDFs to newer technologies will allow constituents to better search, filter, and understand data that is meaningful for their communities."
Open Checkbook was launched with spending for Fiscal Year 2016. Data for Fiscal Year 2017, which ended June 30, will be added by this fall and county expenditure information will be added on a quarterly basis going forward. The site continues to provide links to existing financial information on the New Castle County website, including approved county budgets, monthly spending balance sheets, and current future year revenue and expenditure projections.
The Meyer administration sought guidance from good government and transparency advocates including Common Cause Delaware, the Delaware Coalition for Open Government, Civic League for New Castle County and the Delaware League of Women Voters for feedback and ideas as Open Checkbook was developed. Several community advocates attended today’s announcement and spoke about its value to everyday citizens.
“I want to congratulate New Castle County government for making this interactive resource possible,” said John Flaherty, Board Member of the Delaware Coalition for Open Government. “This site will be a work in progress but having access to information like this was unheard of before the current Administration.”
"Common Cause Delaware supports the new initiative by New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer to bring increased transparency to County Government,” said Jennifer Hill, Program Director of Common Cause Delaware. “The online checkbook will allow members of the community to see who the County is doing business with and how much we are spending. We look forward to working with New Castle County on issues of transparency and accountability and thank them for this effort."
New Castle County’s Open Checkbook is supported by software-as-a-services provider, Socrata, the leading global provider of open data and government performance management solutions.
Contact: Jason Miller, Director of Communications, 302-545-1462