Visualizing Oakland’s Budget

A Riddle

What is pink, blue, red, orange, yellow, magenta, indigo, aqua, puce and chartreuse; swoops and curves with the grace of a mare’s tale and is a compendium of information? You didn’t guess it. It is the OAKLAND 2013 – 15 BUDGET as visualized by the talented Code for America hackers who keep popping up and creating wondrousness things.

Don’t trust me. Go to These guys have put the budget into a graphic of saturated colors that is nothing short of miraculous when it comes to understanding Oakland’s finances. Words are unnecessary – just look. Before me appears a huge magenta block called Non-Departmental and when I click on it, it opens up like a Pandora’s Box to big items like debt service, insurance premiums, Coliseum, Oakland convention center lease payments. Things I never thought about. Check out the Police – a big whopping 20.09% and then City Auditor – a tiny orange strip on the bottom 0.15 %. The 2012-13 Adopted Revenues & Spending graph shows at a glance revenue coming in and going out and what goes through the general fund and what is outside of it. Arguments stop and understanding takes it place. For those of us who would never crack the 300 page budget – this is the way to go. Kudos to the Code for America brigade, Adam Stiles, Shawn McDonald and the whole Open Oakland movement. I love these guys and gals!