The White House has released the President’s budget and for the first time it’s in an open data format. This means that citizens can explore an interactive, visual budget online and the raw data can be downloaded and used by anybody who wants to explore how the US spends its money.
This gives Americans unprecedented access to the ways their tax dollars are spent and makes it easy for people without degrees in accounting and economics to get a grip on the federal budget.
As NMID has reported, several states have been using data visualization software to make their budget documents more user-friendly, but New Mexico is not one of them.
The online portal for New Mexico’s budget, through the Legislative Finance Committee, includes budget reports in PDF format, making it difficult for curious constituents to make sense of the information.
A 2015 report from the Center for Public Integrity (prepared by Gwyneth Doland) showed New Mexico ranked 27th in the nation for the transparency and accountability of its state budget process. The state earned a grade of “C,” in part because budget documents are not accessible to the public in an open-data format.
In a Senate hearing on campaign finance Monday, Susan Boe of the Foundation for Open Government said releasing documents only as PDFs gives but a “veil of transparency.” She was there to support a proposal that would put the state’s campaign finance information as open data, paving the way for the media and the public to create their own data visualizations.