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City of Detroit launches site listing every payment made to vendors

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Open Checkbook Detroit is meant to encourage “greater municipal transparency”

A spreadsheet lists expenses Shutterstock

The city of Detroit has just launched a new website that it hopes will further demonstrate its efforts at transparency. Open Checkbook Detroit allows users to see “every invoice paid to contractors, other agencies, service providers and more,” according to the city-run site The Neighborhoods.

The site was created following a 2015 executive order by Mayor Mike Duggan that established a commission and task force to “make more information available and easily accessible to the public for their use.” In that time, the city has also created the Open Data Portal, which contains a variety of data sets about property ownership, demolitions, city employee salaries, and more.

The data on Open Checkbook, which is still in its “beta” version, is browsable by department and payee. It counts over $1.21 billion in contractor expenses for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. The agencies with the highest total payments were the Department of Public Works ($111.8 million), which is conducting major streetscaping work this summer, and the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department ($79.7 million), which recently announced that it would be spending approximately $500 million over the next five years to upgrade the city’s water and sewer lines.

The city has come under scrutiny in the past for its use of vendors, most recently regarding its demolition program and for purchasing facial recognition software to identify potential crimes.