Thursday, August 04, 2011

A Bright Sunshiny Day!

Sunshine PhotoNo, this isn't referring to long glorious summer weather. As budgets, personal and municipal, around the country get tighter, it helps to see where every dollar goes. Both the State of New Mexico and Santa Fe County have come up with Sunshine Portals, to encourage transparency and accountability in governance. Such portals supply information about public employee salaries, contracts with outside businesses, and how much money various programs are allotted. It's great to be able to access all this information in one place for each government agency.

However, as an information user, having these portals as separate sites can sometimes be a disadvantage. Several months ago I spent some time looking for salary information on the state site, before finding the separate link to the Sunshine Portal. The County has improved the design by including this data within the site itself, but the link to it is a sun icon. I'm used to that icon telling me that it's going to be good hiking or gardening weather. It's also possible that many citizens won't know to check a separate site for essential budget information.

But, it's still a good step forward that this information is readily available to anyone with computer and internet access. It's an improvement on the time and expense of public records requests. In addition to the links on their respective homepages, the State's Sunshine Portal can be found here, and the County's Sunshine Portal can be found here. Bookmark these links, and remember to check them the next time you have questions about how your tax dollars are spent.

Sun in Celestia with Addon by Runar Thorvaldsen, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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