New software will publish more Beaufort County financial data online

zmurdock@beaufortgazette.comMarch 30, 2014 

New software will help Beaufort County make the financial data it posts on its website easier for the public to parse, according to county officials.

Starting next month, the new program will help users sort, search, analyze and download the county's financial information, county chief financial officer Alicia Holland said.

"It's basically a copy of our checkbooks," County Councilman Brian Flewelling said.

The program will cost $15,000 a year, but it's far more efficient than staff members producing reports each month, Holland said.

"This provides more information in less time," she added. "We would invest more than double that cost in staff time (to produce reports) in a year."

Once the data are available online, visitors to the Web page can sort through the same columns and tables that the finance department works with, Holland said.

The software, called Munis Citizen Transparency, will also allow users to manipulate the data to create custom interactive charts and graphs, according to a county news release.

"Most importantly, this new online service allows for more information to be available, strengthening my goal of having a transparent government," county administrator Gary Kubic said.

The county already publishes much of its financial data online, including annual and quarterly budget reviews, vendor payment reports and downloadable Microsoft Excel spreadsheets that detail department budgets. However, most of those documents can't be sorted or manipulated.

The new system will open more raw data that are easier to work with, county spokeswoman Joy Nelson said.

"We already offer so much on our finance page for the public to view, but this new system is interactive, in one location, and there is more info that hasn't been available before," she said.

Follow reporter Zach Murdock at twitter.com/IPBG_Zach.

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