My Money NYC

05/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The recent ethical and legal troubles of many elected officials from New York prove that despite all the talk about transparency, there are still many politicians playing by their own rules for their own political and personal purposes. As a result, the bonds of trust between people and their representatives have been threatened. Confidence in government has been shaken. And cynicism continues to rise. Yet, as distressing as these recent stories are, they are hardly surprising considering the design of our current system. For too long, government's work has been wrapped in a cloak of secrecy, with decisions about laws and public spending more likely to result from backroom deals than an open process.

At this critical moment in our city's history, when schools, subways and senior centers are facing drastic cuts to their budget, it is essential that New Yorkers have faith in their government. As Comptroller, I am committed to ensuring that taxpayer dollars are being used for the best interests of our city, not for special interests.

Since I was sworn in on January 1st, I have worked to leverage the unique position of the office to be a force for change. Today, as part of this effort, I am launching My Money NYC, a new website that will use cutting-edge technology to restore accountability, trust and confidence in New York City government. The site is based on three basic principles.

First, My Money NYC will increase transparency. New York City's Fiscal Year 2010 estimated budget totaled nearly $60 billion dollars. Yet most New Yorkers have trouble tracing how these funds are used. Not anymore. I created NYC Checkbook, one of the most ambitious transparency projects in the history of City government. Scheduled to launch in July at the beginning of the new Fiscal Year, users will be able to search for expenditures in a number of different ways including by vendor or payee name, agency, check amount and check/EFT number. With the click of a mouse, this information will be available to the public easily and quickly. This effort will usher in a new era of disclosure and responsibility.

Secondly, I want to collaborate with and empower communities. Government should not only be transparent but inclusive, affording all residents the opportunity to participate and contribute in making our City a better place to live and work. No one knows the needs of our city better than the people. Yet, communities often feel that their voice is ignored. So, as part of My Money NYC, I started Open Audit, an interactive webpage where New Yorkers can submit ideas for audits that could save the City money, increase revenue or improve the efficiency of agencies. We will consider all of these suggestions in our efforts to root out wasteful spending and will continue to work tirelessly to bring government closer to the people it serves.

Finally, My Money NYC will hold government agencies accountable by examining and measuring the performance of various initiatives. Our first product in this effort will be an MWBE Report Card that will be released in December. Government needs to be held accountable and these reports will shine a light on aspects of the City's business that are too often hidden in the shadows of City Hall.

And, this is just the beginning. As My Money NYC evolves, I am confident that it will bolster public confidence in government and strengthen ethical standards. Once and for all, it is time to lift the curtain that hides how taxpayer dollars are used. Accountability, openness and transparency are the guiding principles of good government and My Money NYC will provide all New Yorkers with unprecedented access to important information. The people deserve nothing less.