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On the Records: Combs' Open Data Center

Susan Combs' new texastransparency.org includes an Open Data Center, where anyone can download dozens of raw data sets, much like the federal government's data.gov.

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs

Republican state Comptroller Susan Combs today is announcing a new transparency website, a massive collection of government data she mentioned during a TribLive event in February.

The site compiles many of the searchable records her office already published, with a more intuitive and stylish design. But it also includes a new Open Data Center, where anyone can download dozens of raw data sets, much like the federal government's data.gov. Another new feature — Where the Money Comes From — allows the public to explore and download state revenue data by categories and descriptions. Expect to see apps and visualizations using this data here in the coming weeks and months.

In a news release, Combs said the site is her latest effort to open up the state's books:

“We’re giving users a one-stop shop to find all of our existing database query systems, and we’re showing the state’s financial data in new and interesting ways,” Combs said. “Transparency not only makes government accountable to the taxpayer that ultimately foots the bill, but it equally makes governments stronger, better and more efficient. Transparency efforts in Texas have yielded cost savings of $51 million since 2007. As our own experience shows, if you know what you are spending, you know how to spend better.”

As I wrote last month, there appears to be a growing and bipartisan open-data movement in Texas government, with Combs now leading the way. State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, is urging state agencies to post other "high-value" databases online, in open-standard formats, and a state House committee chaired by Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, recently held a meeting to explore transparency and accountability.

Will other statewide elected officials follow Combs? We'll see...

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