Machine Learning Automatically Standardizes Municipal Accounting to Enable Peer-to-Peer Benchmarking
Maynard, MA (5/8/18) – ClearGov, a leading municipal transparency and benchmarking platform, today announced an artificial intelligence platform to more accurately and automatically compare finances across municipalities. The new technology helps local governments benchmark spending and funding across a state and national standardized chart of accounts developed by ClearGov.
“Municipalities and school districts will often look to compare finances against similar agencies as a way to identify opportunities to be more efficient with taxpayer dollars. Yet the task of benchmarking municipal finances is made difficult by the lack of a standardized accounting structure across municipalities,” said Chris Bullock, CEO of ClearGov. “For example, one town may categorize an expenditure such as ‘Maintenance of Town Hall’ as a function of Public Works, whereas another town may categorize the same spending under Parks & Recreation. Without a standardized accounting structure, comparing municipal finances is a challenging, if not futile exercise.”
In response to this problem, ClearGov has developed an artificial intelligence platform that can ingest government agencies’ raw accounting data and automatically translate it into a standardized chart of accounts. The platform analyzes many elements of the accounting data, including accounting ID structures and line-item keywords, to accurately restructure the data. By automatically placing similar accounting line items in like categories, the system produces truer “apples to apples” financial comparisons across municipalities.
Government clients of ClearGov’s Insights platform can utilize this standardized accounting structure in a series of custom benchmarking and analytical tools. For example, the platform can inform a town how its spending on “Snow & Ice Removal” compares to other towns with similar road miles in a given proximity. The peer-to-peer comparisons are also utilized in a public-facing transparency profile to provide context that help bring a town’s financials to life for everyone in the community.
“We believe benchmarking our budget against other towns is important because it allows us to better understand and communicate our own spending in context, but this has been near impossible since every town categorizes their spending differently,” said John Frye, Financial Services Director of the Village of Pinehurst, NC. “ClearGov’s standardized municipal financial database and budget comparison tools have afforded us a viable means to benchmark our finances against relevant communities”
ClearGov’s new artificial intelligence platform also dramatically reduces the time needed to onboard new clients’ data on to its transparency and benchmarking platform. A process that was measured in days now takes minutes to analyze and categorize new clients’ data allowing clients to get up and running quickly.
To explore ClearGov’s local government transparency and benchmarking platform visit http://www.cleargov.com.
ClearGov transforms city and town financial statements into accessible, easy-to-understand infographics to help citizens better understand how their tax dollars are being put to use. Local governments use ClearGov’s SaaS solutions to reduce operational inefficiencies, make informed budgetary decisions and improve communication with citizens.