Andy Oram recently commented on Massachusetts’ newest open government venture, Open Checkbook. Oram writes, “On December 5, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick joined with state treasurer Steven Grossman to create an open government initiative with the promising moniker Open Checkbook. The site launched to some acclaim and has received over 220,000 hits. I decided to take a look at what’s offered and what’s missing from this site, and to ask someone in the government here in Massachusetts to describe their thinking in creating the site. The results can give us some insight into the effort it takes at each stage to release government data–and even more significantly, what it takes to increase the data’s value.”

Oram continues, “As a finance project, Open Checkbook hones in on one area of open government: how it spends. With Open Checkbook you can find out where the money goes in the Massachusetts state government, right down to particular salaries or particular payments to vendors. This is highly welcome in a tight economy, especially in a state that is still often unfairly tarred as ‘Taxachusetts,’ decades after tax rates were lowered–a state where news of patronage and pension scandals is common enough to get tiresome–a state where cynical voters have put referendum questions on the ballot in favor of lower taxes at least three times.”

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