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Socrata for Public Finance Release Notes: 4/18

As part of our commitment to continually updating and improving the tools we offer to our partners, today we released a new set of features and updates for the Socrata for Finance tools. This period of work focused on the Open Budget application, with smaller changes to Open Expenditures, Open Payroll, and the Administrative panel. 

Open Budget

This year, the Socrata team will be working to enhance the ability of the Socrata for Public Finance applications to add context to the data and educate end users about budget data and the budget process. We will also be optimizing the applications for common internal uses, to streamline reporting and Public Records responses.

Budget vs. Actuals Comparisons

In that vein, we are excited to announce that the Open Budget application now includes information about Budget vs. Actuals or Proposed vs. Adopted Budget comparisons. 

When publishers choose to include a Comparison value - such as Actual spending - the ratio of the comparison amount to the primary amount is now visible when a user hovers over the bars on the screen. This provides an at-a-glance ability to see how much budget is remaining in a certain allocation, or the magnitude of changes made to an allocation throughout the budget process.

We also added the percentage breakdown of the sub-items at a given level of hierarchy to the Table view, to make the breakdown of budget items more easily scannable and digestible for the public.

Additional Context

 

At the heart of the mission of our Open Budget application is the desire not just to be transparent, but to truly educate the public and provide as much context and information as possible.

To help meet that goal, today we provided a new option for data publishers to add an informational tile on their homepage - we recommend that this space be used to link to the Budget Book, highlight a specific investment or section of the budget, or provide other resources which can help citizens best understand and learn from the data on the site.

We also created a tooltip to allow publishers to provide some brief instructions for users on the use of the hierarchy pane. 

Along with the Annotations feature, these additional features provide publishers with multiple opportunities to educate and inform end users.

Other Changes:

  • Additional flexibility for publishers to modify and style text on the home page.
  • Update to the Over Time view to show All Years by default, and to automatically select the top 5 sub-items on the page to provide a richer and more compelling experience.
  • Created a "Show All" option for the Over Time view, to allow users to select or deselect all sub-items with a single click.
  • By default, the tool will now skip any level of hierarchy with only 1 item, so users do not have to click on a single bar to see more interesting data.
  • Over Time view now appears at the lowest level of hierarchy.
  • Small tweaks and bug fixes.

As a note, these updates do not apply to the pre-April 2015 version of Open Budget, only to the version announced here.

Admin Panel

  • Updates to the Open Budget administrative panel to support the new Info Pane and Help text.
  • Created an "admin" permission level, which allows a customer to add or remove users to their administrative panel.

Open Expenditures

Minor tweaks and bug fixes.

Open Payroll

Minor tweaks and bug fixes.

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