Maryland Tries Fresh Approach with Budget Transparency Portal

Government Technology
Jed Pressgrove

Without using one mouse click in the Maryland Transparency Portal, a citizen can confirm that Maryland paid roughly $30 billion to vendors during fiscal 2018.

With two clicks, one can see that $9.38 billion of the state’s proposed FY 2020 operating budget would go to the Medical Care Provider Reimbursements program. 

And with just a handful of clicks, you can learn that John Hopkins University received about $27.7 million in state grants during FY 2017. 

The portal, which launched in August, is the result of a partnership between the Maryland Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and Department of Information Technology (DoIT). Maryland CIO Michael Leahy said the site, whose home page utilizes a “menu model that folks are generally aware of,” reflects Gov. Larry Hogan’s charge to improve the public’s access to and understanding of state data. 

“The Maryland Department of Budget and Management has had these data sets available, but they were always in tabular form, and most citizens are like me, they’re visual,” Leahy said. “I’d much rather look at things in a chart or graph than simply a table with lots of numbers.”

Marc Nicole, DBM’s deputy secretary, said his department went through a “trial-and-error period” during early 2019 to repackage its data for public consumption. When DoIT became involved, there was roughly a month-long discussion about the initial parameters of the portal.