The County of San Mateo today launched an improved version of its popular Open Checkbook, a free, easily navigable database that lets the public comb through payment data for the last five years.

Visitors to the Open Checkbook site have access to data on hundreds of thousands of County financial transactions — and counting — including the amounts spent on sewer and park maintenance, medical equipment at the hospital and clinics, office space rent and much more. With a few clicks, database users can search by agency, vendor and expenditure type. Open Checkbook includes payments of $5,000 or more with a few exceptions for confidentiality such as restitution payments to domestic violence victims.

“The County of San Mateo prides itself on being transparent with residents about its finances and we want to make access to that information as easy as possible,” said County Controller Juan Raigoza whose office issues the County’s payments. “You don’t need an accounting background to use this search engine. All you need is an internet connection and a little curiosity.”

The launch marks the first major revamp of Open Checkbook since its inception 2013. The new Open Checkbook site is more user-friendly, letting visitors begin with a general view of the data before drilling down on specifics with the click of a mouse. Expenditures are also charted over time to view historical trends.

In addition to Open Checkbook, the County also launched a new Tyler Technologies' Socrata Connected Government Cloud (SCGC) solution which lets staff securely manage and analyze data used to measure performance, shape policy and engage the public. Both projects were large undertakings by the Controller’s Office and Information Services Department over several months but those involved said the payoff is improved sharing of  how the County operates.

“We have a lot of applications at our fingertips, but if we don’t have access to the data, we are limited in our ability to analyze our performance, the impact of our programs, and the opportunities to pivot,” said John Ridener, the County of San Mateo’s open data community liaison. “We chose the Socrata data platform to support our work of building a government that’s more connected internally, and, as a result, more responsive to the needs of the public.”

Both systems help the County continue using technology to improve government. The County also maintains a separate database of uncashed checks which is searchable by name and an Open Data Portal that includes information on subjects as varied as restaurant inspections, electric vehicle charging stations and drone no fly zones.

Be In the Know

Visit Open Checkbook at https://checkbook.smcgov.org

Visit Uncashed Checks at https://datahub.smcgov.org/Government/Unclaimed-Checks/4f39-8iub

Visit Open Data at https://data.smcgov.org/browse