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Rudiak Introduces Bill to Put City Budget Data Online

Less than a week after Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto’s Open Data initiative officially become law, Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak has introduced legislation to work with a California-based company to put all of the city’s budget data online.

A bill introduced Tuesday in City Council would allow the Director of Finance and the Director of the Department of Innovation and Performance to contract with Silicon Valley software company OpenGov.

Company co-founder Nate Levine, one of Forbes Magazine’s “30 Under 30” for 2014, said OpenGov is a “web-based platform that makes it easy for governments to access, analyze, and communicate all of their financial information.”

Levine said the company now serves about 80 municipalities and governmental organizations in 15 states, including Los Angeles, Cleveland Heights, Ohio and the Austin Independent School District.

Levine said he and co-founder Zac Bookman got the idea for OpenGov when they began trying to collect governmental budget data to put online as a public service. He said often when they approached cities and counties asking for budget data, the response was, “We would love to do that, but we don’t know how.”

“Financial data for governments is very complex,” Levine said. "Governments use something which is called a multi-fund accounting environment where the money flows through the city in complex ways, and it can be difficult to show how all of that works using a static budget document.”

OpenGov replaces that static budget document with interactive graphs, charts, tables, and spreadsheets. Users can also download raw budget data to manipulate on their own.

Levine said it usually takes a couple of weeks for a city’s OpenGov site to go live once they receive financial data.

Rudiak’s bill permitting the city to contract with OpenGov will be debated in the Standing Committee meeting next Wednesday.

Liz Reid began working at WESA in 2013 as a general assignment reporter and weekend host. Since then, she’s worked as the Morning Edition producer, health & science reporter and as an editor.