DC Budget transparency – App of the week?

This week DC Office of the Chief Financial Officer released an interactive dashboard (cfoinfo.dc.gov) that provides an intuitive interface for taxpayers to analyze budgets, expenditures and spending plans. Advanced filtering capabilities allow zeroing in on key financial data in a few clicks, such as overtime pay for firefighters, federal subsidies for Medicare/Medicaid programs, Contractual costs for after care programs, etc. The dashboard also allows an analysis of FY2011 proposed budgets for public dialog and analysis.

This dashboard is currently in beta and there are plans to add many more data sources and feeds. Video tutorials are provided outlining key usability features.

We are looking to get the word out to DC Taxpayers, for feedback and suggestions, and to share our experience with others who may be interested in similar endeavors. Check out cfoinfo.dc.gov and help us carry the ball forward.

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John Westra

The Dashboards look like they are coming along nicely! Anything we can do to make things more transparent and provide a simplified interface to both summary and detailed budget information is a good thing!

I would love to see a HUD / EIS of this be designed with a set of open APIs that allow it to be plugged into State & Local data sets as well. Something similar to the e3100 progject

Stephanie Eidelman

Sonny, this tool looks great. It’s easy to navigate and the reports come up pretty quickly. I’m curious about one category I don’t see. Bad debt (owed to the city). Where is this accounted for, or is it immaterial vs. the rest of the line items?

Kim Schaefer

Sorry for comment delay, Sonny. I really like this. I am very interested in not just making financial data accessible to citizens, but making it easy for them to understand. There seems to be a disconnect here a lot of times. People start to glaze over after looking at page after page of numerical data. This graphical format is great and simple to find what I am looking for with the agency or appropriation drop downs. I like the tutorial videos also.

Sonny Hashmi

Stephanie and Kim, Thanks for the great feedback and your input. Really appreciate your kind words. We have been working furiously behind the scenes to add more functionality to CFOINFO. In the next two weeks, you will see a ton of new data on the site including operating expenditures, special purpose revenue information (read fees, etc.), and followed pretty closely with a very comprehensive capital budget module. We are also working with additional data such as revenue information, Purchase Orders, procurements, etc. Stay Tuned and keep checking back. If you have any questions, ask away.

Stephanie, your question is a good one. I dont know the answer off the top of my head. I will need to check with the city’s accounting division to see how they account for bad debt. Will have an answer for you soon.

Sonny Hashmi

John, thanks for the kind words. I’d love to discuss your idea further. We do intend to release a machine readable data interface. Would love your input as we architect it.

Thanks again!

Sonny Hashmi

HI Stephanie,

I have (finally) an answer on your question regarding bad debt. Can provide more details, but in a nutshell, there are different parts/aspects of outstanding debt:

1) Outstanding receivables (such as tax liability, etc.) are recorded as revenue budgets. Currently CFOINFO does not display revenue budgets, but we are planning on adding the revenue budgets module in the near future.

2) Bad debt that is considered uncollectable is recorded as part of the Yearly CAFR process once the fiscal year has been closed. This debt is recorded as a budget expenditure line item in the “Expense Not Budgeted – Other” category (See attached screen shot collected by filtering on this expense category in the detailed report). Keep in mind that bad debt is only one of several line items within this category. CFOINFO currently does not provide a further breakdown of this category into sub-parts. However, this information can be provided by sending in a written request to the CFO (FOIA process outlined on cfo.dc.gov). However, this category does provide a high level estimate of such expenditures for DC.

You will notice from the screen shot that no “Expense not budgeted-Other” expenses have been recorded for FY10 or FY11. This is because such expenses will not be recorded for FY10 until the fiscal year is over. FY11 budget is only “proposed” so such expenses cannot be recorded until they actually occur.

I will be happy to provide further details as needed.

Also check out our new iphone app now available at cfoinfo.dc.gov

Stephanie Eidelman


My response here is so incredibly belated as to be laughable I’m sure. I’ve been following Gov Loop in the emails but haven’t logged back onto the site so hadn’t seen your response until – incredibly – today. My apologies. I appreciate you looking into this answer. I will take another look at the site and come back to you with any additional questions.