Phoenix Increases Transparency with Online Open Checkbook

Dec. 23, 2013

City Hall Obelisk with StarburstThe city’s Finance Department today announced it has launched Phoenix Open Checkbook, a web application to provide residents with information about city spending in an online website.

"It is features like this and our city's commitment to fiscal responsibility that make Phoenix a municipal leader when it comes to transparency,” said Mayor Greg Stanton. “We strive to serve the taxpayers who are entitled to easy access to this information.”

The searchable format, available at phoenix.gov/finance and updated monthly, allows city purchases to be reviewed by department, vendor, and date; and can be downloaded as a report or Excel spreadsheet.

“While our city's website has received honors for transparency four years in a row, we found that a critical piece was missing - an open checkbook,” said Vice Mayor Bill Gates, chairman of the City Council Finance, Efficiency & Economy Subcommittee. “Our city's checkbook is now wide open for everyone to see. Transparency like this strengthens the trust between the city and our taxpayers - and it's the right thing to do.”

The checkbook-level expenditure information does not require users to read through individual contracts and is downloadable for data analysis.

“Phoenix has an excellent track record of fiscal transparency, but we are always searching for ways to improve openness, accessibility and efficiency,” said Acting City Manager Ed Zuercher. “The Phoenix Open Checkbook opens our checkbook and makes it available to our residents who want to see how the city spends taxpayer dollars.”

“The Phoenix checkbook website is an important transparency tool that provides residents with information about how public money is being spent,” said Serena Unrein, Public Interest Advocate for the Arizona Public Interest Research Group Education Fund.

The Phoenix Open Checkbook builds on several fiscal transparency measures, such as:

  • Zero-based budgeting
  • Annual community budget hearings in each City Council district
  • Online access to the Summary, Detail and Capital Improvement Program budget reports and the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report
  • Finance Department “Investor Information” webpage with in-depth financial reports, including a Financial Condition Report, the city’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and Bond Sales Official Statements and Continuing Disclosures
  • The City Council approved a plan to redesign the phoenix.gov webpages using responsive web design so users can view pages on smart phones, tablets, laptops, desktop computers and all other web-enabled devices. The new design will be available in mid-2014.
  • The Budget and Research Department redesigned the department’s website, phoenix.gov/budget to make it more user-friendly and transparent
  • All Phoenix City Council meetings are televised live on PHX 11, phoenix.gov and the city’s Facebook page. Meetings are archived on phoenix.gov and on the city’s YouTube channel, youtube.com/cityofphoenixaz

Sunshine Review, a non-profit organization dedicated to state and local government transparency, recognized phoenix.gov with a 2012 Sunny Award for exceeding transparency standards for the content it provides to residents. This was the third year in a row Phoenix received the award and is one of only 214 jurisdictions out of 6,000 reviewed to be recognized.

To view Phoenix Open Checkbook, visit the Finance Department website at phoenix.gov/finance.

Media Contact:

Sina Matthes       602-534-6648