" PeopleZ greatly facilitates Government Transparency Portals for the view and use
of financial information both for agencies and their constituents "
  • Many government agencies are participating in the movement towards financial transparency. The foundational energy that are driving this fortunate shift are the political drive to respond to the current administration's legislation (namely, the 2009 Transparency Memorandum), but what makes this legal attentiveness possible is the innovative technology that effaces the need for PDF files to be the main repositories for financial information. Online portals are instrumental for these efforts to continue allowing constituents to have more access to the destination of their taxes. Seemingly, it is almost an imperative need for there to be a portal through which the public can access financial information without having to hunt down this information in various places. An online application, ideally backed by a Cloud, should contain easy to use navigations through which the public can view tabular or graphical representations of the financial information that agencies have chosen to make transparent.
  • Using mutable applications that can be tailored to each agency's transparency needs is a highly effective way to account for the 80,000 local governments that the US has. As part of the transparency effort, citizens will be able to compare their city's financial status with that of other cities. Moreover, having access to this data extends beyond graphical intake; statistical analysis can determine crime rates, how the city is handling its public education requirements, or the efficiency of spending on public safety, or other venues of tax dollars.
  • Over time, continuous use of transparency portals will foster a national sense of fiscal responsibility, in which citizens actively respond to the implications found in the financial data. Essentially, financial transparency becomes more than an online encryption, for its tools produce social empowerment for progress based on the government agencies' financial accountability. The social aspect of government transparency lies in that it encourages constituents to not only analyze the data to which they have access, but to act according to the implications that surface upon analyzing it; in other words, if citizens find out that their city is headed straight for bankruptcy, they should be able to not only confront the agencies who have led the city to this state, but also for themselves to take action and keep the city from becoming bankrupt.
  • It speaks well of companies to be transparent even in times of trouble. For example, if the agency is operating during a time of recession, but it is able to push through and once more become profitable and responsive to its community, then the losses and debts reflected in the portals are just a reflection of an external condition purportedly outside of the agency's power to avoid. On the other hand, if the agency is too preoccupied with appearing financially healthy under these same financially execrable conditions, and chooses not to disclose its financial records, the constituents will interpret--through their everyday financial relationships with the agencies--that this obscurity is due to something else than a temporary subjection to a time of financial crisis. Ultimately, one should remember that transparency is synonymous with honesty, the latter which constituents will greatly appreciate if they don't face obstacles when trying to access information that falls within their rights.
  • Legally mandated reports address the concern for lack of cooperation from behalf of government agencies. Although they are ostensibly representing constituents' interests, given that financial transparency is becoming a shared goal between agencies, these mandates do not enforce transparency insofar as they more precisely regulate and streamline a purpose through which responsible government agencies already operate.
  • Financial transparency via online applications is itself a financially wise route to take. By keeping from spending on reporting software, data storage, development, hardware costs, and maintenance, the agencies can focus on bolstering their finances so that they can provide more favorable results for the general public's view and use. Indeed, the existence of a user-friendly online portal addresses the diverse purposes for which people may require this access. By avoiding convoluted, obscure representations of financial information, journalists who require statistical graphs as outside sources for their publications can greatly benefit from online, transparency portals. This diversity of utility could even help the academia, as its statistics definitely function as a reliable, secondary source.
  • Reliance on these outmoded methods would be extremely aggravating and needlessly undermine the reputation of an agency that has maintained an impeccable financial record, but did not have the necessary technology to display it. After all, transparency is not only for inspective purposes of discovering faults or negative financial trends; holistically speaking, it should definitely exalt the wise, responsible decisions that lead to laudable data.
  • Once the government agencies have been able to implement an online portal through which they can display their financial information, the next step should be to establish opportunities for direct interaction between the public that is viewing and using this information, and the government agencies eager both to address their constituents concerns and to implement necessary changes in their user interfaces. An opinion poll, in which users can comment on possible ameliorations to the site, or where they can weigh in on public fiscal projects, should be located within the transparency site. Doing so is a clear demonstration that the agency wishes to vivify this transparency experience. It is, after all, a person who accesses this information; approaching this portal personably greatly comforts users who are skeptical of this technology. Moreover, maintaining an active opinion poll, or even an analytics site where users may see how many people access this particular portal on a given day, concedes that although these government agencies may not be perfect, they are constantly striving for perfection in communicating their data in the most honest presentation possible.
  • It is worth mentioning an existing financial transparency solution that encapsulates the above stated benefits. PeopleZ greatly facilitates growth in this movement both for agencies and their constituents, and its meticulously designed aesthetic produces clearly organized data both for view and utility.
  • Roberto Becerra