FOI Daily Dose: Site that opens Denver checkbook should continue adding information, watchdogs say

Citizens and reporters in Denver, Colo., will no longer have to file public records requests to learn some of the ways the city spends tax dollars.

Denver city and county launched a website July 17 revealing the city’s financial reports, investments, residential- and business-property records and city-owned properties for sale, according to the Denver Post.

The site, called Transparent Denverfeatures a checkbook that will be automatically updated daily so citizens can see how the city is spending its $900 million annual budget.

“This site opens the book of city government,” Kennedy told the Post. “The goal, as the mayor indicated, is to really improve the level of trust so people can see how their tax dollars are being spent.”

Cary Kennedy, Denver’s chief financial officer, told the Post that five years of city spending data are already available, and the website has a link to the city’s annual financial report.

But some news organizations and watchdog groups say there is still critical information missing from the site.

For instance, FOX31 Denver points out that even though the website lists dollar values of expense reimbursements for officials when they travel, it does not provide specific details about what they are reimbursed for, such as airline tickets, cabs or dinners.

“I think a lot of people will say, OK you got reimbursed $1,861 for this trip, but we don’t know if you went to the Four Seasons for dinner. We don’t know if you had wine on the taxpayers dime. So how can we improve the system? So, it’s more transparent?,” investigative reporter Tak Landrock told FOX31 Denver.

FOX31 also pointed out that the website shows the city spent $1.6 million dollars using credit cards, but it does not show what they purchased with the cards.

Kennedy told FOX31 Denver that posting credit card statements could “boggle down the webpage,” but taxpayers who have questions can email the city for more information.

Employee payroll is also missing from the site, but Wil Alston, director of communications for the finance department, told the Post that taxpayers can access this information through Colorado open records requests.

Kennedy said the website will continue developing to make numbers more accessible.

Luis Toro of Colorado Ethics Watch, a non-profit government accountability group, told FOX31 the website is a good start, but leaders should continue make information more available.

“I think you can always get more web capacity. The computers are getting more powerful and people’s internet speeds are getting better,” Toro said. “Technology is very good in this area to solve those problems.”

Kara Hackett is SPJ’s Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern, a freelance writer and a free press enthusiast. Contact her at khackett@spj.org or on Twitter: @KaraHackett.

EmailTwitterGoogle+FacebooktumblrPinterestReddit

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

  • http://www.true-market-value.co.uk find out how much my house is worth

    A local contractor specializing in patio rooms and sunrooms can help you with all the details.
    The best help, advice or info is only a call or
    click away, which is always a perk if you’re new to the home buying process.
    Therefore, what limits the possibility of the sale taking place
    is the buyers’ ability to satisfy your economic needs.

    Also visit my web site … find out how much my house is worth


Newest Posts

Congratulations! Mark of Excellence Awards list April 16, 2014, 5:21 pm
Mark of Excellence Award duplicate order form April 16, 2014, 5:13 pm
Google Chrome: The Only Browser You’ll Ever Need April 16, 2014, 12:00 pm
Congrats & Annual Reports! April 14, 2014, 4:25 pm
Three Web Design Resources Every New Grad Should Play With April 14, 2014, 12:00 pm
Three Web Design Resources Every New Grad Should Play With April 14, 2014, 12:00 pm
6 Things to Bring to an Interview (and 6 Things to Hide) April 8, 2014, 1:50 am

Copyright © 2007-2014 Society of Professional Journalists. All Rights Reserved. Legal

Society of Professional Journalists
Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center, 3909 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208
317/927-8000 | Fax: 317/920-4789 | Contact SPJ Headquarters | Employment Opportunities | Advertise with SPJ