Atlanta launches portal allowing citizens to track city spending

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Tuesday unveiled her plan to create an online portal through which citizens can track city spending.

Called Atlanta’s Open Checkbook, Bottoms said the system has largely been built out and should be operational within two months. She said it will allow residents to review spending on vendors, by departments, or by individual city officials who charge expenses to taxpayers.

“The public information belongs to the public,” Bottoms said.

Chief Operating Officer Richard Cox said the system will work on mobile devices and a variety of search engine browsers.

“You’ll be able to dig into any area of Atlanta government that you deem appropriate,” said Cox, who is on loan for a year from Cox Enterprises, which is covering his salary and benefits. Cox Enterprises owns The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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The announcement was made during a press conference one day after Bottoms asked for the resignation letters of 26 high-level city officials, from police chief Erika Sheilds and airport general manager Roosevelt Council Jr. to city attorney Jeremy Berry and watershed commissioner Kishia Powell. The press conference was held in the atrium at City Hall, with hundreds of employees watching from the walkways around all five floors.

Bottoms declined to say which, if any, resignations have been accepted. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported that communications director Anne Torres no longer works for the city.

"The past several months have been a very challenging time for the city of Atlanta," Bottoms said. "The theme for the week is speak softly and carry a big stick."

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