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Budget transparency begins with data visualization

Data visualization can transform your budget data into interactive visuals to engage citizens and increase government transparency.

Public engagement in capital planning helps citizens feel connected to their local government. In particular, transparency about capital budgets can help citizens understand spending decisions and how taxpayer dollars are being spent. When your government agency is managing hundreds of infrastructure and capital projects, sharing capital planning information with citizens is a great opportunity to raise awareness of projects that will have an impact on the community and for encouraging citizens to provide feedback. By creating a two-way dialogue, your government agency can build trust with citizens and improve their perception of your performance.

Capital budget best practices

The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) sets out best practices for communicating capital improvement strategies and increasing public engagement stating, “Public participation and stakeholder involvement during the planning, design, and construction of capital projects is extremely important.” Capital projects can be complex and sharing information publicly can give citizens a better understanding of what your government agency is trying to achieve. Some of GFOA’s suggestions include:

  • Develop a communications plan that explains capital needs, options and strategies for the community.
  • Provide clear and consistent messages with accurate information about a project’s cost, duration, impact and benefit.
  • Encourage citizen engagement during the budgeting process to obtain a broad range of opinions and views from citizens to ensure the decision-making process is truly collaborative.
  • Make a genuine effort to engage citizens or risk increasing public cynicism and a poor perception of your government agency’s performance.

When public trust in government has been declining, transparency is valued for helping government agencies become more accountable and responsive to the community, and to build trust with citizens. However, how citizens interpret and understand the budget information you provide is just as important as making it public. Citizens need to be able to understand the capital budget data you share if they are to see your government agency is performing competently. Large volumes of budget data may be difficult for citizens to understand and could lead to confusion about what you are trying to accomplish.

Increasing transparency with data visualization

Data visualization offers a sophisticated method of representing data in a visual format. Studies have shown that humans respond better to visuals, processing visual information 60,000 times faster than text. By using data visualization software, your government agency can present your capital budget using interactive visuals such as graphics, charts, maps and informational pop-ups. Citizens will gain a deeper understanding of your capital budget when they can search, filter and drill-down through budget data and the capital projects of greatest interest to them.

In fact, Questica customers agree that using Questica OpenBook is an easy and effective way to translate your capital budget into engaging interactive visuals. Your government agency can communicate your capital budget visually and share information that was previously hidden in a report or spreadsheet. Explore our OpenBook sample visualization to discover how citizens would explore your government agency’s budget data.

In addition, OpenBook can:

  • Showcase your financial and non-financial data with engaging and interactive visuals.
  • Display capital projects on an interactive map and include project information, such as the budget, actual spend, funding sources, GIS map data, resource documents, images, videos and more.
  • Allow the public to easily access visuals via the web or mobile, and share data through all social channels.
  • Integrates seamlessly with Questica Budget for the most accurate and up-to-date data.

Public engagement and helping citizens understand your government agency’s capital budget has never been easier. By using Questica OpenBook, along with a powerful budgeting solution like Questica Budget, your government agency can communicate with citizens and provide interactive visuals to provide them with a deeper understanding of what you are trying to achieve. Inform citizens about your capital projects and create a two-way conversation about your plans for the community. Data visualization is the tool you need to increase transparency and build trust at a time when trust in government is declining and citizens want to feel connected to their local government.


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Learn how to find the right solutions partner to enhance your ERP, save time and resources, and ultimately deliver a greater impact on the communities you serve.

Download eBook