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An Advance in Budgetary Understanding: The Cool New Dallas City Pie Chart


by Jerome Weeks 13 Aug 2010

City governments often seem to be in the business of obfuscating everything as much as possible. But the city of Dallas has created a fascinating, interactive, online pie chart of the proposed 2011 city budget. OK, so we know how dweebish that sounds. You can go back to watching Afternoon Delight. But really, for anyone who’s ever tried to pry basic data out of city government, this thing is nifty.

CTA TBD

Actually, it’s not just any pie chart.

City governments often seem to be in the business of obfuscating everything as much as possible. Even the ‘citizens’  guides’ they supply (with full-color illustrations!) will be rife with the Requisite Nomenclature Learned from Business Management:   “Performance measure tracking systems, as part of a departmental business plan, have also been developed in an effort to link fund allocations with desired and actual outcomes.” (Translation: We try to track the money with departmental goals in mind.)

But the city of Dallas has created a fascinating, interactive, online pie chart of the proposed 2011 city budget. You can click on any department in the chart, and up pops the basic info: total proposed budget, total staff numbers and percentage change from the previous year’s budget. But you can also choose a city department from a list on the left side (“Housing”) and get a more detailed financial breakdown (“Community Centers,” “Urban Land Bank,” “Senior Services”).

For number crunchers or for anyone with a vested interest in the city’s budget decisions (arts groups? library supporters?), this thing is wickedly clear and easy.

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