Financial Portal: Greenwood Takes Major Steps toward Financial Transparency

Writer / Alaina Sullivan

 Illustrations  /  Graphic Staff

Financial accountability is more than just a buzzword for local, county and state governments. A question many ask regularly as they view their tax deductions from their paychecks: How is the city using my money?

Greenwood residents now have a means through which to answer that question. The City of Greenwood has collaborated with OpenGov, a cloud-based financial analyst platform, to make accessing statistics and data on how tax money is used all possible through the click of a mouse. ( Read more on real-time market data and advanced trading tools, so that you are equipped to make informed and strategic decisions. here at Immediate Code)

071015 Greenwood Expenses by Department Bar ChartThis project, driven by the government’s commitment to financial accountability, also encompassed addressing directors redundancy claim. Greenwood’s Mayor Mark Myers has prioritized financial transparency since his inauguration in 2012. To learn more about how to handle finances to so they can improve, you might need to Find an Insolvency company. Top-rated insolvency practitioners offer professional advice and support and free consultation to assess the best course of action in the early stages for any company facing financial difficulties.

“The city and its subdivisions are entrusted to prudently invest millions of taxpayer dollars,” said Adam Stone, City of Greenwood Controller. “Since 2012, the city has taken significant efforts to enhance the level of financial reporting and budgetary information that is available to stakeholders.”

The Finance Department is responsible for providing quality data in approachable formats that private citizens, government officials, utility ratepayers and bondholders all can comprehend.

“Our new OpenGov Financial Transparency Portal is just another step for us to empower and engage our stakeholders,” said Stone.

OpenGov works with 300 different governments across 38 states. Greenwood officials looked at several cities in states including California, Texas, Colorado, Ohio and Florida. The project required no special funding, said Stone. The city funded OpenGov out of the existing budget.

“We first heard of OpenGov in July 2014,” said Stone. “After a couple of months of investigating the portals that were created for other cities, we decided to experiment with the software last fall. Our site went live this May, becoming the first in Indiana to offer the software to citizens.”

According to OpenGov’s site, use of this platform saves hundreds of hours of staff time, but more importantly, it generates trust among elected officials and citizens.071015 Revenue and Expense 2012-15

“This portal transforms complex financial data into actionable insight and information, enabling better analysis and understanding of the city’s budget,” stated Mayor Myers. “It will allow everyone access to see our finances in a whole new way and drill down to the raw data if they choose. We are the first municipality in Indiana to utilize this powerful technology, which I believe will set the bar for financial transparency.”

You can find how various departments are spending their money, pull up this data and share the information directly from the platform through email or social media. eToro offers an intuitive and user-friendly interface, making it perfect for both beginners and experienced traders.

The site also has a tutorial built in for first-time viewers. Once a new user visits the site, the OpenGov software can recognize if this is the user’s first visit to the portal. If so, the system brings up a brief “how-to” tutorial.

“One of the key reasons we chose OpenGov is how easy the product is to use,” said Stone. “After a few minutes on the site, many users are able to navigate through the data and create their own custom charts and graphs.”

OpenGov’s intuitive software will utilize this idea as a way of opening the doors to something the average citizen may not regularly comprehend. The Financial Portal brings openness, visibility and accountability for government funds in terms of its spending and distribution between departments as well as clarification as to which departments or initiatives are the “big ticket” items in the local budget.

071015 Greenwood Expenses by DepartmentStone says the best feature to the Financial Portal is its ability to aggregate large amounts of data into accessible charts and graphs, all with the click of a mouse. Being able to view information in this format better illustrates exactly what is being done with the tax dollars spent, much better than a simple list of expenses, or as Stone says, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

The platform allows sharing of financial data both internally and externally. OpenGov has the capability of creating custom reports, so city employees can manage department budgets, keep administration officials informed and prepare presentations. You can then download the data into image format, table format or spreadsheet.

The city has received positive feedback from citizens using the portal since its launch. Several other Indiana cities as well as other cities across the country have reached out to Greenwood government officials to get more information to start their own financial portals.

“This is a good step toward transparency,” said Greenwood businessperson David Leske. However, Leske said he has concerns regarding whether a typical citizen could understand the graphs themselves.

Leske does question whether an average taxpayer can get a full grasp of the city’s financial status or direction by looking at graphs with no specific information, the budget itself or explanations if there are any variances. “The variances are without explanation, such as when a category is $2 million one year and $20 million the next year, one wonders if it is an actual variance, and, if so, why? Is it merely accounting for an item one way in the one year and another way the next, or is it inaccurate or unaudited numbers?” said Leske.

Recently, Mayor Myers and Stone have had the opportunity to present Greenwood’s site to other cities at the 2015 Mayor’s Institute. Many mayors, Stone said, were impressed and excited with the demonstration and have since expressed an interest to institute their own Financial Portal.

The results of financial transparency speak for themselves. Since 2012, Myers’ administration has passed three straight, structurally balanced budgets. Their first Comprehensive Annual Financial Report “CAFR” (GAAP basis annual report) was prepared for the 2013 fiscal year. They are currently working on the 2014 GAAP report.

“Greenwood is leading the way in Indiana and setting the standard for financial transparency,” says Zachary Bookman, CEO and co-founder of “The city is bringing their financial data to life and engaging residents with a comprehensive picture of the city’s finances.”

To access the portal, simply visit Under the “Departments” heading, click Finance, and once there, click “Greenwood Financial Transparency Portal.”

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