Governor Larry Hogan and the heads of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Department of Information Technology (DoIT) have launched the Maryland Transparency Portal, a new web-based application that will empower citizens to become better informed about the details of the state budget with a user-friendly and easy-to-navigate interface. Using the Socrata platform currently trusted by government agencies at the local, state, and federal level throughout the country, the Maryland Transparency Portal (mtp.maryland.gov) will allow users to:
• Navigate budget information, including expenditure detail, fund detail and position information
• Navigate vendor payment detail by fiscal year (FY)
• Navigate grant and loan detail by fiscal year
Four years of budget information will be available at launch: the FY 2020 legislative appropriation, the FY 2019 working appropriation, and actual data for both FY 2018 and FY 2017. Additional budget information will be added with the introduction of future budgets, revised following the Maryland General Assembly’s action on the budget each year, and finalized to coincide with the release of each fiscal year’s closeout report.
“One of our greatest challenges has been to find a way to convey information about the state budget that makes it easy for our citizens to understand where tax revenue is coming from, where it’s going and why,” Hogan said. “Finally, with the Maryland Transparency Portal, we’re able to give the public the tools necessary to cut through the partisan rhetoric and media spin to see for themselves how much of their money is being spent on the government programs and projects that are important to them.”
Although information regarding vendor payments and the details of state grants and loans are already available on DBM’s website, the Maryland Transparency Portal will streamline that information and place it within the context of the overall state budgetary structure. In addition, the new web app will enable DBM and DoIT to update budget information earlier than in prior years, and it will interconnect with other valuable Maryland data sources, including the Open Data Portal, in order to provide citizens with a comprehensive archive of Maryland’s fiscal actions.
DoIT Secretary Michael Leahy applauded the launch of the new web app, saying, “The connected nature of the Maryland Transparency Portal will not only allow people to view details of the state budget in all of its phases faster than they’ve ever been able to do so before, but it will also link that information to data from the other sources that people are already familiar with - making for a seamless transition between that and the new portal.”
The Maryland Transparency Portal is an essential step in keeping the governor’s promise to make state government accessible and convenient. In the 2018 review of Maryland's existing vendor payment site by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, the evaluation criteria emphasized several user-friendly features not present in the state’s current system, such as the ability to drill down into the data to identify spending by agencies on categories such as motor fuel and legal services. Using the Maryland Transparency Portal, all of that information — and more — is just a few clicks away.
“Making sure that people can understand the fundamentals of the state’s budgeting system is necessary if we hope to foster the growth of an informed populace,” said DBM Secretary David Brinkley. “We’re confident this new website will inspire Marylanders to take a closer look at where their tax dollars are going and start to hold their elected officials accountable for the votes they’ve taken on those very taxes.”