Since it was first piloted in September 2018, the Department of FISCal’s (FI$Cal) transparency website, Open FI$Cal, has continued to grow and provide more useful information on the state’s expenditures to the people of California. In November 2022, the website took another big step down the road to financial transparency by adding the first expenditure data from non-FI$Cal departments, otherwise known as deferred or exempt departments. This brings California closer to having the state’s complete “checkbook” of spending transactions available for public review.
Deferred departments are not yet using FI$Cal for their accounting because they had recently implemented or were in the process of implementing their own financial management system when FI$Cal began onboarding departments. As these departments’ systems require upgrades or new functionality, they will transition to using the FI$Cal system. Exempt departments on the other hand, have statutory authority to use systems other than FI$Cal for their financial management.
The ability to publish data from non-FI$Cal departments is enabled by functionality FI$Cal has deployed which allows data from the State Controller’s Office (SCO) legacy system to be interfaced into the FI$Cal system, as we continue to work toward SCO using FI$Cal as the state’s official book of record. As with the FI$Cal departments before them, FI$Cal staff have worked with staff from these departments to allow them to review the data ahead of publication to make certain there are no surprises and to ensure the website has the correct contact information, should the public have questions about the data. In November, Open FI$Cal added data from the California State Lottery, the University of California, the Department of Technology, the California Law Revision Commission, and the State Compensation Insurance Fund.
With the latest additions, Open FI$Cal contains data covering approximately 75% of the state’s budgetary expenditures, representing 158 business units. Because the data interfaced from SCO is not as complete as data entered into FI$Cal by departments that use FI$Cal for their accounting, the data available from these new departments does not contain information on the vendors that are paid by the non-FI$Cal departments or the account codes that each expenditure is related to, but it does include information allowing users to break out the data by date, fund, program and budget reference.
This latest addition to Open FI$Cal builds on previous milestones achieved on the site, including the uploading of all data for departments that use FI$Cal for their accounting, the creation of the Open FI$Cal Learning Center to walk users through how to use the site and its data, the development of a dataset dedicated specifically to the state’s COVID-19 expenditures, the enhanced functionality to download all of the data from the site, and the copying of the data to the state’s Open Data Portal, which creates additional download options and allows the data to be accessed via an Application Programming Interface.
FI$Cal will continue to work with the remaining non-FI$Cal departments to add their data to Open FI$Cal over the next several months as well as expand the site’s capabilities to continue improving its usefulness for all Californians.