NYC Comptroller's Office unveils Checkbook NYC 2.0
Financial records like payroll, contract bids, and general spending for over a hundred New York City agencies are now online for anyone to access.
City Comptroller John Liu unveiled CheckbookNYC.com Wednesday. It provides interactive graphs, historical trends, and exportable spreadsheets for anyone interested in how the city spends its annual $70 billion budget.
All data is from the city's centralized budget and accouncting system which the Comptroller's office oversees.
At the unveiling, Comptroller John Liu said transparency is vital for fiscal responsibility.
“It's a great public tool,” Liu said. “It can serve as an early warning system for overspending and it also allows taxpayers to hold agencies accountable for the spending they take."
Checkbook NYC 2.0 is an updated version of a similar website unveiled by the Comptroller in 2010. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said this version is more user friendly, dubbing it the "Google of City Expenditures.”
Searches could range from a local community board’s yearly budget to the NYPD’s annual payroll. Visitors can even find out how much the city spends on certain foods or drinks: at the unveiling, City Councilwoman Gale Brewer jokingly said she was surprised how much the Mayor’s office spent on wine.
But, Liu said the website’s ultimate goal is to keep the city’s purse strings tight and away from potentially fraudulent projects like CityTime. Comptroller Liu said the city could have used a website like this years ago when it lost millions to the fraudulent contractor in charge of streamlining its payroll system.
"It's very conceivable we would not have had to endure the debacle of CityTime. A project that was supposed to cost $63 million and by the time I became comptroller the city had already spent $700 million."
The city awarded the CityTime contract to the Science Applications International Corporation in 2005. Several CityTime consultants were charged with defrauding the city five years later.
Liu said his office plans to make it easy for other municipalities to replicate the site, saving them time and money. He also said there are several forums for public input to make sure the data is both accurate and user-friendly.