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City budget proposal to be available online

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With the first budget of his administration, Mayor Peter Carlisle is offering the public — number crunchers, spreadsheet devotees and open-government advocates alike — a chance to examine the figures and come up with ideas he might have overlooked.

Carlisle calls it Citizens Accessing Numbers Discover Opportunities, or CAN-DO.

The online initiative aims to solicit ideas from the public by making more information available.

"This administration wants to be transparent," Carlisle said in announcing the initiative. "Transparency not only regulates — essentially requires — self-correcting behavior, but gives new and fresh ideas."

Carlisle said he discussed the idea with City Council Chairman Nestor Garcia, who will preside over the Council as it crafts the budget that ultimately will go to Carlisle for consideration.

"We are in complete accord that we believe that the more we can do to show people exactly what’s in the budget, the better it will be toward all of our self-correcting behavior," Carlisle said.

The move was applauded by public-interest group Common Cause Hawaii.

"There is definitely a trend across the country to bring more government data online, and it’s good to see Honolulu taking this step to make information more accessible for the public," said Nikki Love, Common Cause Hawaii’s executive director. "We hope to see more data posted on this website in the months to come."

Instead of just posting copies of standard printed documents, city Information Technology Director Gordon Bruce said, the city plans to post raw budget data by agency and by line item that can be downloaded and imported into spreadsheets.

The entire operating budget for the city and county will be available to the public, as will the budget for the soon-to-be-formed Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit. Financial disclosure forms for Carlisle and his Cabinet already are posted.

"We’ll provide an opportunity for the citizen to review this data and provide comment back to us that we will forward on to the appropriate parties to then look at ways that we may be able to save money, reduce costs and come up with any other ideas that we possibly missed," Bruce said. "I’m sure we’ll come up with some great ideas."

The site can be accessed at can-do.honolulu.gov.

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