Thursday, May 26, 2016
Continuing in her efforts to make Allegheny County government more transparent, county controller Chelsa Wagner announced two new programs at a press conference Thursday — OpenGov Allegheny and Allegheny County Contracts Online.
“What I’m particularly excited about is I believe these [programs] signify a new day for transparency in county operations,” said Wagner. “As you know, since 2011, I’ve advocated for greater transparency in county government, with the authorities and beyond.”
OpenGov is a service that’s partnered with 700 governmental agencies across the U.S. to make government financial information accessible online. This information can be broken down by yearly budget, vendors' reports, payments, wages and benefits, salaries, and the number of employees.
Within each category is a set of filters that organizes the information. For example, employee data can be broken down by age, ethnicity, pay status, union status, employment status, benefit group and job type. Financial results are depicted in graphs and a search bar is also provided for specific searches.
“The employee count [number of employees] is going to be especially interesting,” Wagner said, "because you’ll really see some of the trends in the different departments; and countywide where there are fewer employees doing a little bit more work, or a lot more work in certain situations.”
Wagner said the department’s working to have data dating back to 2002 on OpenGov by the end of the summer. The program is operated in-house.
“By providing these user-friendly tools to the public, we will now have more eyes on county government operations,” said Wagner. “This alone will make county government more responsive and more efficient. Taxpayers will be able to see and search exactly how their dollars are used with budget reports updated monthly and contracts added upon our office’s receipt of them.”
In addition to OpenGov’s financial information, County Contracts Online grants access to government contracts with the click of a mouse. They can be accessed by department, contract number, vendor name or by searching key terms.
Contracts pass through the county controller’s office for review and are scanned and uploaded to the site, where they are available for download.
“This is a way that we can take action now without waiting for the state legislature, which may take many years to ensure that our authorities are more transparent and responsive,” said Wagner.
Both OpenGov and County Contracts are available for use at the county controller's website.