Atlanta Meets Self-Imposed Transparency Portal Deadline

Open Checkbook, a financial portal that tracks expenditures in the last two years so far, launched Sept. 4.

Working to deliver on one of five goals set earlier this year with the debut of the new Mayor’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Atlanta officials gathered to mark the debut of a portal aimed at tracking city funds Sept. 4.

The initiative known as Open Checkbook was announced on April 10, less than a month after the city suffered a debilitating ransomware cyberattack, and is similar to others already online in Texas, Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts. But, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said at the time, it was one more way she intended to enhance service delivery and hold her city accountable to its residents.

During a press conference Tuesday, Bottoms pointed out that her administration had met the goal it set about eight months earlier — to launch the portal by the end of summer — and said she sincerely hoped “that the public will be reminded of our administration’s commitment to transparency.”

“You will now have two years’ worth of data, financial data from the city of Atlanta, totaling $2.1 billion in spending, that will be available for you to review online,” Bottoms said. “This is a significant day in the life of the city of Atlanta.”

The portal tracks financial data in 2017 and the first half of 2018 so far, for a total of $2.1 billion and nearly 105,000 transactions. It is expected to be updated quarterly with more recent data; and to be backfilled with information on expenses from previous years, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Expenditure levels are charted monthly, year against year, on a graph; as well as by department, vendor and expense.

Her administration, Bottoms said in her remarks, had “talked a lot about breaking down silos in the city of Atlanta,” and she pointed to the teamwork that helped create Open Checkbook as evidence that is actually happening.

The city’s Chief Operating Officer Richard Cox said in his remarks the deployment should open a “new era, both on transparency and efficiency.

“Also, this should improve competition for city contracts, help agencies improve traffic; and, near and dear to my heart, help us control spending,” Cox said.

Theo Douglas is assistant managing editor for, and before that was a staff writer for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes covering municipal, county and state governments, business and breaking news. He has a Bachelor's degree in Newspaper Journalism and a Master's in History, both from California State University, Long Beach.
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