Transparency Measures Save City Millions

In 2012, Simi Valley staff responded to council members’ challenge to find the most proactive, public-friendly platform in an effort to boost civic engagement. “We published tables full of numbers for years, but the Council wanted us to find a better way to be more open and proactive with information to spur public participation in government. Our goal was to be transparent in everything we do,” said City Manager Jim Purtee.

Later that year, Purtee and his team were introduced to OpenGov’s transparency and data visualization platform. Two years after signing, the team came to fully realize the unanticipated benefits of an open and transparent financial data platform. 

In early 2014, city leaders decided to refinance a 2004 revenue bond in order to reduce borrowing costs by taking advantage of lower interest rates. By utilizing OpenGov during Standard and Poor’s rigorous evaluation of the city’s financial management practices, budgetary performance, and economic climate, the city was deemed to have an “extremely strong” capacity to meet its financial obligations, and was awarded an historic AAA rating, as well as the option to refinance the 2004 bonds.

Since saving nearly $3.2 million after refinancing the 2004 bonds, Simi Valley continues to reap the benefits of an open data platform. By drastically reducing the number of staff hours spent responding to public requests for information, as well as eliminating several internal inefficiencies, staff estimate that the city saves over $10,000 per year. 

“It’s a confidence thing now,” says Purtee, “The public knows the financials are out there now and they can check OpenGov anytime. They get it.” And in a time where trust and transparency is so low, it’s worth every penny. 

Want to learn more? Read the full case study on OpenGov.com or download the Administrator’s Guide to Financial Transparency.

 


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