Darien launches new platform to aid in transparency
Published 12:21 pm, Wednesday, July 26, 2017
DARIEN — In an effort to increase transparency and increase access to information, the town has launched a public platform with the help of the Silicon Valley-based technology company OpenGov.
On the site, residents can view, filter and analyze prior year, current year-to-date and next year budget data. The data can be downloaded and shared via email or on social media.
“I’m firmly committed to full government transparency and this seemed like the most innovative tool I’ve seen to date,” First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said.
According to Stevenson, OpenGov reached out to her a little over a year ago to showcase its platform. With the help of Town Administrator Kate Buch and Finance Director Jennifer Charneski, Stevenson reviewed the cloud software, ultimately inviting them to Darien, where the group — plus Board of Finance Chairman Jon Zagrodsky — were impressed.
“Darien is excited about our partnership with OpenGov, and the immediate improvements this new platform can bring to our town," said Charneski. "Through this new site, we will be able to make budgeting and decision making more efficient and effective, and most importantly, better communicate with Darien residents."
Stevenson said she believes each department can use the platform in different ways to review functions and create efficiencies.
“We see great potential in our ability to use the platform to analyze government spending and revenues, detail capital project spending, create reports, identify trends and give taxpayers the ability to see how their tax dollars are being spent - real time,” Stevenson said. Capital spending on projects like the Town Garage, for example, can now be easily monitored.
Additionally, she said she hopes the Board of Education will also come on board, as they account for a majority of the town’s budget.
OpenGov is a cloud software that assists more than 1,500 public agencies in 48 states with budgeting, operational intelligence and open data. Customers include the city of Minneapolis, Minn., Maricopa County, Ariz., and Washington, D.C.
Darien’s OpenGov page can be accessed from the darienct.gov home page by clicking on the “Departments & Services” drag down menu and then selecting “Finance.” And icon at the top left of the screen reading “Open Darien,” will take interested parties to the platform.
Stevenson said that she hasn’t received any feedback yet, but added that the site only launched in mid-July.
“I anticipate that the platform will become very useful during our budget development and approval process,” Stevenson said.