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Los Angeles Financial Transparency

Los Angeles Financial Transparency

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin, declaring  that he is ``throwing the doors open'' on the city's finances,  released  millions of lines of data on city payroll, revenue and spending to the public  on a new website dubbed ``ControlPanelLA.''

``The public will have, for the first time, direct and centralized  access to a wealth of this data,''  Galperin said. ``And you can review it,  search it, analyze it, download it, share it online anytime.''

Most of the data on ControlPanelLA was previously only accessible to a  limited group of city officials and includes detailed payroll information for  nearly 50,000 city employees, payments to hundreds of outside vendors, and city  revenue from various sources such as parking tickets and dog license fees.

The website, which can be accessed at https://controllerdata.lacity.org/, was developed by Socrata, a government data  software company based in Seattle, under a one-year, $84,000 contract,  according to Chief Deputy City Controller Claire Bartels.

ControlPanelLA gives Angelenos the ability to delve into financial  information in minute detail, including looking up city employees' actual pay  by quarter, and a ``checkbook'' section showing individual payments made out to  contractors and vendors.

The information can be organized as pie charts or line graphs that allow  site users to rank and compare data. According to the website, the city's top  expenditure for outside vendors since June 2011 was on lawsuits and legal  settlements, which came to $108.7 million.

Galperin said he hopes to continue adding to the website and is working  with City Attorney Mike Feuer to obtain the ``legal go-ahead'' to release  specific information about lawsuits and settlements.

The city's financial data can be downloaded through the site, a feature  that civic engagement strategist Catherine Geanuracos said could prove exciting  for software and applications developers in Los Angeles.

``Most other cities are further ahead than we are on this process ...  but we're catching up really quickly,'' she said. ``My hope is that L.A.  leapfrogs ahead, takes the benefit of all the learning that's happened in other  major cities and applies it here,'' said Geanuracos, who organized this year's  ``Hack for LA.''



The hack-a-thon event brings together the public, entrepreneurs and  software developers to create applications to solve ``civic'' challenges. A  winning app from the latest event can be used to alert its users to employment  opportunities in their vicinity, according to the Hack for LA website.

Developers will be able to incorporate the information released by  Galperin today at their next hack-a-thon in December, she said.

``Our last event, we created about 40 different apps, and I can't wait  to see what our developers does with this information,'' she said. ``We see a  lot of new ways with fooling around with this data.''

Mayor Eric Garcetti -- who earlier this month also unveiled a data- driven website measuring the performance of city departments -- hailed  Galperin's website.

``This data is not our data. It's the public's data,'' he said. ``The  more tools we give to people to look at data, to track important measures, the  more power they will have to control the direction of their city government.''

An hour after Galperin unveiled the site, social media users had already  begun digging into the data and sharing nuggets. Twitter blogger  ``HLP90042,'' who posts updates about Highland Park, observed that the data  from the site shows 622 city employees with higher salaries than the mayor, who  makes $200,568.58 annually. 

Photos: Control Panel LA

 

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