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Financial transparency platform unveiled by city 

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Last edited 10:23 p.m., Feb. 8, 2024 [Editor's note: Teresa Allen is pictured in the photo. She previously was misidentified in the photo cutline.]

The city of Springfield went live today with a cloud-based budgeting and transparency platform accessible from its homepage. 

Called OpenGov, the platform is an online budget book updated daily with information about revenue and expenditures that can be broken down to the department level. It was implemented with the 2023-24 budget for internal use. The 2024-25 budget process begins later this month. 

Data accessible to the public on the site includes financial dashboards, reports, Springfield Police Department figures, audits and explanatory videos. 

The initial implementation of the platform cost the city $193,000, and it carries an annual fee of $133,000, according to city officials. 

Director of Finance David Holtmann said the platform is part of the city’s effort to be transparent. 

“We want to get as much financial information out to the public as we can,” he said. “This is really just the beginning of that – the big project that we took on, moving our budget to the OpenGov platform and all of our financial reporting.” 

He added, “This is for not only the internal city users but for the public to be able to go out and see how the city spends its money.” 

City Manager Jason Gage said sharing data quickly and effectively is important, both internally and with the public. 

“The transition to OpenGov has really brought our budgeting process into the 21st century,” he said in a news release. “The transparency portal allows us to more effectively share our story with visually appealing dashboards and metrics with our stakeholders.”’  

Teresa Allen, the city’s budget coordinator, called the system very robust, particularly with salary projections. 

“It’s a lot like what we did before, just in such a better format – we can do a lot of different scenarios,” she said. 

She said a lot of time has been spent in implementation. 

“I feel it will save an incredible amount of time for us, for our division and being able to do a lot of different things,” Allen said. “I think it’s really going to help departments.” 

The system is linked to the city’s Oracle accounting software and updated data is integrated every night, Allen said. This will help supervisors, who can see a snapshot instantly instead of having to run a financial report or receive assistance from Finance Department staff. 

Cora Scott, who directs the city’s Public Information and Civic Engagement office, said on a department side, the system has been helpful. 

“You can better manage what you measure,” she said. “Just having real-time access and easy access to data, both financial and then eventually other data points as well, just helps the departments manage their operations.” 

She added that even more information will be added to the platform as implementation advances. 

“Longer term, we’re going to see the real efficiency in the savings, and also probably increased quality of all services, just because of being able to get to that real-time data on a regular basis,” she said. 

The link from the city’s homepage leads to dashboards for revenues and expenditures, and these show real-time figures for year-to-date sales tax revenue – currently down 1.62% or $421,000 compared to the budgeted projection – as well as sales processed by the state, down 1.08%, or $278,000 compared to projections. 

That’s just one example of the information provided on the portal, which also offers annual, financial and audit reports, as well as up-to-date budget information. Newcomers to the site can be oriented with a video prepared by Allen on its front page. 

Scott said the city has always offered an open data page, but the information was not as current. 

“It really didn’t have the level of detail, obviously, that we’re going for now and into the future,” she said. 

Prior to today, most of the information contained on the platform was available only by request, Scott said, though Holtmann noted the city previously put out monthly sales tax receipts and general fund revenue reports. 

The portal is available at SpringfieldMO.gov/opendata. OpenGov, a government technology company, is based in San Jose, California.

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