New York shows off its checkbook
On Thursday, New York City Comptroller John Liu launched a new tool for the public to view and track how New York City government spends money. Over $35 billion in city expenditures since Jan. 1 are now accessible at the public’s fingertips at Checkbook NYC.
Checkbook NYC is an online database of the city’s expenditures that allows users to search and download by agency, vendor/payee name, purpose and amount. “This has already raised the bar on the way things are done in government,” Liu said in a statement. “The more information we make available to the public, the more built-in incentives all of us in city government have to save taxpayers money, which has really become more important than ever before.”
Liu first announced the Checkbook NYC initiative on March 18, setting a launch date of July 1, the start of fiscal year 2011. “It is fitting that as we celebrate our freedom on this 4th of July that a new era of openness has arrived, and as of today every person interested in policy and every skeptical New Yorker can answer the age-old question: What are they doing with my money?” said Councilmember Gale Brewer, chairperson of the City Council Committee on Governmental Operations. “As someone who has spent many years working in government and the same number of years trying to open up government data, I applaud this one-of-a-kind single location website that is updated daily to show New Yorkers how their tax dollars are being spent.”
Checkbook NYC will be updated daily and uses the city’s financial management system to identify and chronicle all city expenditures. Because of privacy and security issues still under review, some transactions in Checkbook NYC do not include the payee name, such as some payments made by the New York City Police Department, the Department of Investigation, the District Attorneys’ Offices, as well as certain payments made to individuals, employees and for health and social services.
Checkbook NYC is part of Liu’s broader My Money NYC transparency initiative that gives New Yorkers access to information about the city’s finances, encourages community-government collaboration on fiscal matters and provides user-friendly performance measures. “Almost immediately, this level of heightened transparency compels more judicious expenditures of taxpayer money,” Liu said.