Bringing financial transparency to local governments and citizens, one city at a time.
A publicly available financial story of how cities allocate and spend their budgets.
Increasing transparency and accessibility to financial information has long been a goal for the Town. We hope this new feature will encourage users to learn more about Town finances and be more engaged in the annual budget discourse.
$25k – $50k
Government employees and elected officials understand that budgets are the road maps they must follow. Insiders live and breathe the budget. They wade through 300-page PDFs and toss around terms like “enterprise fund” and “capital outlay” with aplomb. But most community residents have little insight into municipal finances.
This is why Invo, along side Annie LaCourt and Alan Jones, created the open source Visual Budget (licensed under Apache) – a tool for deepening the conversation between government and citizens about how taxpayer dollars are being spent, and why. It lets citizens understand budget priorities at a glance, see how their own tax dollars are spent, and understand the context for financial decisions, without devoting a week to reading spreadsheets.
The Visual Budget gives citizens the information they need to have informed conversations with municipal officials about values and priorities, enriching the experience for all.
Arlington Town Management Analyst Michael Bouton said he was happy to work with Invo’s creative team on the project. “It was a blank canvas,” Bouton said. “We came in with an idea and the conceptualization of it was them.” The Invo designers and engineers donated their time, and the company has made the code for the project available online for other town governments to use. An Arlington resident, Involution’s Creative Director Juhan Sonin was excited about the collaboration, saying “It’s a part of our civic responsibility as designers to get involved in the design of policy.”
The code is freely available under the Apache license at Github.
The first town to adopt the service was Arlington, MA. See it live.