NEFAC, Mass. Open Government Groups Call on Worcester to Continue Fiscal Transparency Program

CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 |


The New England First Amendment Coalition and several Massachusetts open government groups recently called on Worcester city officials to continue the Open Checkbook program, an online portal showing municipal expenditures. The city recently announced that it will discontinue the service.

“Fiscal transparency is a hallmark of open government,” wrote the groups in a March 13 letter to City Manager Eric Batista. “Taxpayers, journalists, and civil society organizations must have access to information about government expenditures to ensure government is functioning appropriately, without corruption or mismanagement.”

Signing the letter were NEFAC, the ACLU of Massachusetts, Common Cause Massachusetts, MASSPIRG and the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center.

City officials justified the decision to end Open Checkbook by citing general security concerns. These concerns, however, are largely unfounded, the groups explained.

“While cybersecurity is a serious issue and should be prioritized by government at every level, there is nothing about Open Checkbook data that poses a unique cybersecurity threat,” they wrote. “In fact, the records accessible in Open Checkbook are public under state law and other municipalities and the state government continue to use their own portals. Concerns about hacking related to this data, like any other public data online, can be addressed by implementing and adhering to basic cybersecurity practices and policies.”

NEFAC is the region’s leading advocate for the First Amendment and the public’s right to know about government. All coalition briefs, advocacy letters and statements can be found here.

NEFAC was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public’s right to know. We’re a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society. Our members include lawyers, journalists, historians, academics and private citizens.

Our coalition is funded through contributions made by those who value the First Amendment and who strive to keep government accountable. Please make a donation here.

NEFAC is supported by the Estate of Gloria Negri. Additional funding is provided by Leadership Circle donors including the Rhode Island Foundation, The Boston Globe, Paul and Ann Sagan, and the Robertson Foundation. Major Supporters of NEFAC’s work are Hearst Connecticut Media Group, Boston University, the Academy of New England Journalists, the Society of Professional Journalists Foundation, Genie Gannett for the First Amendment Museum, Linda Pizzuti Henry, the Champa Charitable Foundation Fund, Connecticut Public and WBUR-Boston.