Governor Cuomo Announces Launch of 'Open Budget' Transparency Portal

Press Release

By:  Andrew Cuomo
Date: Jan. 22, 2013
Location: Albany, NY

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the launch of OpenBudget.ny.gov, a new website that provides unprecedented access and transparency to New York's budget. Open Budget's easy-to-use tools, charts, and information are available to the public today in coordination with the Governor's Executive Budget address.

Open Budget is a first step in Open New York, an initiative outlined in the Governor's 2013 State of the State address, which will use technology to promote transparency, improve government performance, and enhance citizen engagement.

"Open Budget is bringing the people back into government by taking budget data out of government file cabinets and making it available to the public for the first time in an easy-to-access, downloadable form. This will facilitate research, analysis, and innovation," Governor Cuomo said. "As a first step in my Open New York initiative, Open Budget provides a powerful tool for transparency and accountability, fostering citizen engagement and enhancing the public's trust in government."

The Open Budget website provides easy, single-stop access to New York's wealth of budget data, including comprehensive machine-readable raw financial data along with tools and charts to make that information more understandable. To support transparency and to encourage participation in government, researchers, citizens, business and the media will now have direct access to high-value data which they can search, explore and download; use for analysis; and use to build their own additional tools that find practical uses for the data for all New Yorkers.

Openbudget.ny.gov contains:

Powerful Budget Lookup Tools: Allowing media, researchers, and the public to easily view and download New York's budget information to facilitate review and analysis. Tools include:
Budget & Actuals Lookup: Search and download estimates and actual spending information for the current year and dating back to 1994, shown either statewide for all years or filtered by function, agency, fund type, or financial plan category.
Appropriations Lookup: Search and download budget appropriations for the current budget year, shown either statewide or filtered by agency, fund type, program or appropriation category.
Capital Appropriations Lookup: Search and download capital appropriations for the current budget year, shown either statewide or filtered by agency.
Electronic Access to Current and Historical Budget Data: Single-stop access to current and historical budget information in electronic format with key recent budget documents downloadable in machine-readable and Microsoft Excel formats as available. In addition, fascinating historical documents dating back almost sixty years to Governors Thomas E. Dewey and Nelson Rockefeller are newly available in Adobe PDF format on a single site.
Charts and Tables: Charts and tables make access to New York's budget data more impactful by illustrating where New York's budget dollars come from and how taxpayer money is being spent.
Easy Downloads of the Current Year Financial Plan: This feature, which will be updated periodically, provides easy electronic access to the State's financial plan tables -- materials that have been requested by researchers and the public in the past and are now made available here proactively.
Single-stop Access to the Governor's Executive Budget Materials and other Timely Announcements: Now providing one-stop access to information and materials related to the 2013-14 Executive Budget. Open Budget will provide access to other timely budget materials of interest to the public going forward.

Budget Director Robert L. Megna said, "Under the Governor's leadership, the Division of the Budget can play an important role in opening government and bringing information to the public as part of the Governor's Open New York initiative. Making budget data available to the public will foster productive engagement with State government, and I look forward to seeing the innovations borne through this initiative."

Robert Freeman, Executive Director of the Committee on Open Government, said, "The area that attracts the most attention throughout the state involves how public money is being expended. Open Budget, as a first dramatic step in Open New York, will give average citizens and researchers the ability to determine where the money has been and where it will be going. By doing more than the Freedom of Information Law requires, Open Budget enables all citizens to participate in improving the quality of government."

Dick Dadey, Executive Director of Citizens Union, said, "Citizens Union commends Governor Cuomo for this important first step in the Open NY initiative to create a single web portal for state budget data. The public will be better able to understand the budget and independently perform their own analysis by accessing current and historic budget data in user-friendly formats, including spreadsheets and visualizations. This initiative promises to increase transparency of state government for New Yorkers."

Gene Russianoff, senior attorney for the New York Public Interest Research Group, said, "Open Budget benefits the public by making it easier to learn how State agencies are spending their tax dollars. At the same time, experience shows that government benefits from the many insights the public can bring from taking a look at open data."

John Kaehny, Executive Director, Reinvent Albany, said, "Open Budget NY is a solid step forward for open government in New York, and a welcome use of technology to make a basic function of government much more transparent and understandable. It's a smart way for the governor to begin his Open NY initiative. The state budget is a fundamental part of government. Yet, until now, it's been so huge that even experts have trouble working with it. It's a new day. The governor's online budget tool allows New Yorkers to crunch the numbers themselves, and understand the specifics of what is being proposed and debated."

E.J. McMahon, Senior Fellow, Empire Center for New York State Policy said, "Governor Cuomo deserves credit for promoting the use of technology to spread access to important public information. We look forward to using budget data from this site to build practical application and analysis of interest to the public."

Elizabeth Lynam, Vice-President and Director of State Studies, Citizens Budget Commission said, "This is a critical breakthrough in improving the transparency of the New York State budget. By sharing key budget information with the public for review and download, openbudget.ny.gov will facilitate research and analysis and improve the ability of all New Yorkers to engage with the State budget."

Frank Mauro, Executive Director of the Fiscal Policy Institute, said, "Making the tables from the Executive Budget books available to the public in excel format is a tremendous step forward."

Open Budget is a first step in the Open New York initiative, outlined in the Governor's 2013 State of the State address, which will use technology to promote transparency, improve government performance, and enhance citizen engagement.

Open New York builds on the Governor's past work to make government more transparent. As Attorney General, Cuomo used technology to provide groundbreaking transparency and accountability in government through Project Sunlight, the state's first-ever online database of information related to campaign finance, lobbying activity, state spending, and state contracts.

As Governor, Cuomo has continued his commitment to government transparency and performance through technology. The CitizenConnects website serves as an "online town hall" where New Yorkers can find the Governor's past schedules, see information about meetings around the State, and watch video of Governor's events. The comprehensive Tappan Zee Bridge website provides access to all prior project reports along with up-to-date construction information that complements extensive in-person outreach. "TheNewNY.com" provides comprehensive and easy-to-navigate information on starting and maintaining a business in New York State, and the Regional Council website makes public detailed information on economic development projects.

These new uses of technology build on steps taken under Governor Cuomo to increase opening the doors of government to New Yorkers, which include: as his first act in office opening the Capitol's second floor to the public after it was closed off for more than a decade; inviting the public for the first time to attend the State of the State address; and deploying the Governor's Cabinet and deputies across the state to communicate and hear from New Yorkers through public forums in every region of the state. In addition, the Governor, together with the Legislature, passed ethics reform in 2011 that created the Joint Commission on Public Ethics and increased disclosure requirements for public officials.