Montgomery County Shows Value of Open Data with SpendingMontgomery Initiative

Rockville, Md., December 19, 2014—The Montgomery County Government has taken another giant step forward in financial transparency by releasing spendingMontgomery. Using open data, the new initiative will allow taxpayers to see like never before how the county spends money, who spends it, what it is spent on and with whom the county does business.

The link to spendingMontgomery is:

Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer, the Council’s lead member for digital government and the chief sponsor of the legislation that created a County open data policy, praised spendingMontgomery.

“The new spendingMontgomery initiative is a groundbreaking application of the open data vision, and I applaud the County Executive and his team for bringing it forward,” said Councilmember Riemer. “This is the kind of innovation in government services that I hoped would result from establishing both an open data policy and a strong collaboration with the Executive Branch to implement the vision. Budget and spending data is complex, but Montgomery County, in partnership with our vendor, Socrata, has managed to take the raw data and make it accessible, understandable and meaningful. This level of financial transparency will set a new standard for government organizations.”

Some of the key highlights of spendingMontgomery include:

  • Guided view of all the payments made by the County
  • Ability to search payments based on category, amount, recipient and more
  • Graphs, charts and other visuals that make help make sense of data

“Every single check cut by the Department of Finance, save those omitted for safety and privacy concerns, is now at the public’s fingertips,” said Councilmember Riemer. “For example, if a resident wants to know how much money is being spent on office supplies, they can find it easily. Likewise, spendingMontgomery allows access to the raw data for more robust analysis by residents, budget analysts, advocacy groups and other interested parties. I couldn’t be more pleased with the results of our open data initiative.”

The tool is powered by raw data from dataMontgomery, an initiative called for Open Data Act of 2012, which was authored by Councilmember Riemer and approved unanimously by the County Council. The law requires all County departments to catalogue and publish their data sets on the County’s open data web site, and the implementation plan describes the schedule for publishing.

Montgomery County has a $5 billion operating budget and a $4.45 billion capital budget for Fiscal Years 2015-20. The county recently launched an Open Budget tool, also piloted with Socrata, that revolutionizes how the government provides budget data, by moving entirely away from paper based budget documents and fully utilizing the power of open data and visualizations to present valuable information.

Councilmember Riemer’s work on open data has been described by Open Innovation Magazine, published by Socrata, as “a model for county council members across the country.”

The next step in the County’s quest for greater financial transparency is contractsMontgomery, which will further reveal the County’s financial relationships with contractors. ContractsMontgomery will likely be released in 2015.