by Sarah Curry
Director of Fiscal Policy Studies
Transparency has always been a problem for state government. How much the state spends on certain government programs always tend to surprise people. So why not set up a searchable budget website so citizens, news reporters, and watchdog groups alike can all know exactly where the state spends its money? That idea was taken very seriously in Connecticut and now the controller has launched a searchable website for the Connecticut state budget.
The new site called “OpenBudget” default allows the public to track down to the line item how much money the state is spending in specific areas of the budget. The new site lets the public take revenues and expenditures and compare it in real time to what had been budgeted. It also includes data from previous years, so users can look back at how much spending or revenue has increased or decreased in certain areas.
“It’s been a priority of mine since I’ve arrived here to open the state’s books in a more comprehensive way,” Lembo said. “To make sure data was available to policymakers, the media, academics and others so they can make their own determinations about where we are and where we should be going.”
OpenBudget, like “Open Connecticut”, allows users to export the data and perform their own analysis on it. Lembo launched Open Connecticut in 2013 and upgraded it in 2014. The information on the “Open Connecticut” through a function called “Open Checkbook” is updated nightly and it allows users to see how much the state is spending on a specific vendor.