New York City Comptroller John Liu on Wednesday launched Checkbook NYC 2.0, a website that he said provides “unanticipated access” into how New York City spends its $70 billion annual budget.
“With out-of-control cost overruns and a growing public sense that tax dollars are not funding real priorities, this application could not have come sooner,” Liu said at a press conference.
The website is www.checkbooknyc.com.
Version 2.0 is an update of Liu’s Checkbook NYC, which the United States Public Interest Research Group ranked first in financial transparency in a study of the 30 largest cities in the United States. In a report issued Wednesday, U.S. PIRG called New York and Chicago “models for how cities should make spending data accessible to the public.”
New York and Chicago scored 98 out of a possible 100, both earning an A grade. San Francisco rated third with a 90 score, or A-minus grade. Atlanta, Detroit, St. Louis, Sacramento and Cleveland rated F, all with scores below 50.
“All cities, including Leading cities, have many opportunities to improve their online spending transparency,” the report said.
New York watchdog organizations praised the enhanced website.
“Budget transparency is an important but often overlooked goal,” said Ronnie Lowenstein, director of the New York City Independent Budget Office.
Carol Kellerman, president of the Citizens Budget Commission, said it “makes information on city spending easily accessible.”
“Checkbook NYC 2.0 gives all New Yorkers their own key to the city, providing them with both the data on how the city funds are spent and the tools to take a close look,” said Gene Russianoff, a senior attorney for the New York Public Interest Research Group. Russianoff is also the chief spokesman for the Straphangers Campaign subway rider advocacy group.
According to Liu, key features of the website include a citywide dashboard as well as dashboards for more than 100 individual agencies. Visitors can monitor city finances through spending, contracts and payroll applications.
The tool also provides access to more than 20 years if historical information, enabling users to conduct trend analyses in more than two dozen areas, including the city’s debt outstanding, population and budget.