Montgomery County, Pa., Unveils Online Checkbook

The new finance database provides a "contact" button which sends questions directly to Chief Financial Officer Uri Z. Monson.

by Jessica Parks, The Philadelphia Inquirer / July 14, 2015

(TNS) -- Montgomery County, Pa., is now posting its checkbook online, allowing the public to analyze up to five years of revenue and expenditures.

Unveiled Monday, its new finance database, www.montcopa.opengov.com, provides graphs, tables and download options, and filters by department, time period, revenue or expense type.

A "contact" button sends questions directly to Chief Financial Officer Uri Z. Monson.

"People find something they don't understand, I'm hoping they will ask," Monson said. "It's public money. The public should be able to ask about their funds."

The site is the latest in a string of technology initiatives for Montco. Last fall the county launched a similar graphics-driven database for election results, and in March the commissioners tested out two apps to live-stream their meetings on social media.

"Some people want to show up at a town hall meeting and speak to you face-to-face. Others are much more comfortable sitting in their living rooms with their computers and engaging with you that way," said Commissioners Chairman Josh Shapiro. "I think it makes us better at our jobs, makes the citizens more informed and more involved, and ultimately leads to better government."

The new database is hosted by OpenGov, a Silicon Valley startup that counts former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers among its advisors. The company serves more than 300 government agencies, of which Montgomery County is among the most populous, Shapiro said.

According to data from the website, the annual cost of OpenGov ($15,000) is less than the county spends quarterly on housekeeping supplies ($17,075).

©2015 The Philadelphia Inquirer. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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