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How to Jump Start Your Financial Transparency Initiative

Posted by Neubrain Communications

The United States is a country with a mature and educated digital population, where citizens constantly question whether their tax dollars are being put to good use. It’s no surprise, then, that they want to collaborate with their government on designing future public services.

Citizens want a clear and stable vision of the government services available to them. One way to provide that is through transparency in financial and performance reporting. Sharing formulated strategy, implementation progress and performance results help taxpayers understand how strategic or priority goals translate into dollars, so they can see how their money makes a difference. But citizens are not the only beneficiaries in this scenario. Transparency forces government administrators to run operations more efficiently. Fostering citizen engagement through data sharing helps government officials better understand the priorities of individuals and communities.

Now that we know what sharing can provide to citizens and government workers alike, the next step is determining what information to share. Here are some ideas:

What Information Should Be Included?

Citizens_Budget.pngCitizens Budget

 Because the budget is the key instrument by which an agency translates its policies into action, a simplified version of it, called a Citizens Budget, should be included. This should be a nontechnical summary of the budget designed to facilitate discussion. An average citizen should be able to grasp expenditures allocated to strategic priorities or goals, programs, agencies, divisions and departments.

Performance_Scorecard-1.pngPerformance Scorecard

 A model for impartial review and evaluation of the organizational budget and performance status. It’s a standardized evaluation or rating system, similar to Morningstar’s bond ratings system, except it goes beyond just fiscal health metrics to address performance and effectiveness of a strategic plan, initiatives, programs and organizational units, providing citizens with a summarized and easy-to-understand status of performance. 

Project_Tracking.pngStrategic initiatives and projects tracking

 Top organizational initiatives, action plan projects that leaders and staff will focus on during the year, and a progress report throughout the year identifying the status of projects and tasks. 

These datasets are just a sampling of what could be included, but they’re the absolute minimum sets you need to kick off financial and performance transparency efforts. Download our eBook to learn more about guiding principles and techniques for figuring out what and how to share as you implement a transparency initiative. 










Topics: budgeting, transparency, open data


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