Welcome to DATA.RI.gov (Municipal Transparency Portal)

Data.ri.gov

This website is being utilized to fulfill the purposes of the Municipal Transparency Portal (MTP) outlined under Rhode Island General Laws §45-12-22.2.

Data available on this website include both the "old" format of reporting and "new" format. The "old" format reporting is utilized by all communities until they are fully phased into the "new" format of reporting. The "old" format of reporting is only available in PDF and is not presented with a searchable dataset. The "new" format of reporting utilizes the data collection form MTP-1 and data is available for all reports in both a pdf and a searchable dataset. Additionally, all visualizations presented on this website utilize "new" format reporting data.

About

The Municipal Transparency Portal is a newly developed program that improves local government reporting required under Rhode Island General Laws §45-12-22.2 and §44-35-10 and the subsequent utilization of collected data. This has been achieved through a collaborative effort between state agencies, communities and other interested stakeholders by analyzing what should be reported and in what detail, with efforts taken to ensure the process is as transparent and timely as possible while still delivering a consistent, accurate and comparable data product readily accessible for public use.

State Agencies responsible for the construction and implementation of the Municipal Transparency Portal include the Division of Municipal Finance, the Office of the Auditor General, and the Department of Education. The phase I pilot cities, towns and school districts which were partners in this effort include Barrington, Bristol, Cranston, Glocester, Lincoln, Middletown, North Providence, Pawtucket, Providence, Smithfield, South Kingstown, West Warwick and the Bristol/Warren Regional School District. Additional supporting entities include the League of Cities and Towns.

Goals

The overarching goal of the Municipal Transparency Portal is to support governmental transparency on all levels. Accurate financial reporting is necessary in developing government efficiency, and after a collective examination of previous reporting requirements by the state and communities, it was determined that to better benefit all relevant parties, reporting could be further streamlined and made uniform, and include more relevant data that is clearly defined and comparable throughout the state.

We strive to continue to provide a centralized location for collected financial data to be viewed by the public that presents a more accurate portrait of local government finance in Rhode Island. The state, communities, and other interested parties will then be able to utilize this data for both internal and external reports, promoting successful future operations by better informing key decision makers and fostering future collaborative efforts.

Finally, we are excited to have a plan in place that eventually transitions all Rhode Island communities into participants in the Municipal Transparency Portal through a three-pronged phase-in process. Phase I, initiated by our group of pilot communities, began the process by incorporating changes in FY16. Phase II will be a second group of communities who join the first by incorporating changes in FY17. Phase III will be the final group, representing the remaining communities not included in the first two phases, whose changes will begin in FY18. While communities are being phased into the "new" format of reporting for the Municipal Transparency Portal they will continue to provide "old" format reporting. This "old" format reporting will be available in PDF form only for all communities.

Transitioning all communities to the "new" format could not have been accomplished without the hard work and initial sacrifice of our first group of pilot communities, who deserve a special thanks for volunteering their efforts to formulate this process with us from start to finish.

Timeline

The transition from the "old" reporting format to the "new" format for the Municipal Transparency Portal will be implemented through a three-pronged phase-in process. During this period, whether a municipality submits a report in the "old" or "new" format depends on which phase group they are a member of, what fiscal year it is, and what report is due to be completed. Phase I, initiated by our group of pilot communities, began the process by incorporating changes in FY16. Phase II will be a second group of communities who join the first by incorporating changes in FY17. Phase III will be the final group, representing the remaining communities not included in the first two phases, whose changes will begin in FY18. At the start of FY20, all Rhode Island communities will be fully transitioned to the "new" reporting format.

Data

The annual audited financial statements for each municipality are prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) as prescribed by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB). The annual municipal data report reflects amounts that are consistent with and reconciled to the GAAP based audited financial statements.

The annual operating budgets for a municipality and periodic schedules comparing budgeted to actual results are often prepared on a budgetary basis of accounting which may differ from amounts included in the GAAP based audited financial statements. Budget reports included on the Municipal Transparency Portal conform to the required presentation but still reflect the underlying budgetary basis of accounting utilized by the municipality in preparing its budgets. When differences exist, the budget to actual comparison schedule for the General Fund and other major funds, which is presented as required supplementary information in the municipality’s annual financial statements, must detail and explain the differences between the presentation of the budget to actual comparison schedule and the GAAP based financial statements. Reference should be made to the municipality’s annual audited financial statements when a more detailed explanation of the differences, if any, is required .

Communities are responsible for the classification of revenues and expenditures by department or object and compliance with Portal guidelines. Procedures have been implemented to ensure this information is consistent with audited financial statements and what’s reported through the Rhode Island Department of Education’s Uniform Charts of Accounts (UCOA) process. Submitted information is subject to a limited review process by the Division of Municipal Finance (DMF) before posting. Information is intended for purpose of analysis and as a supplement to other relevant financial information that may be available from audited financial statements, budget documents, and other available financial data prepared by communities. Further enhancements to the data and the portal are planned communities during the implementation phase.