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New Year Brings New Access to City Council Campaign Finance Data

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Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune
The City Clerk's office will begin posting campaign finance records for those running for the Austin City Council in February 2016.

If you’re curious about how Austin City Council candidates fund their campaigns, you’re in luck: Beginning next year, that data will be more accessible to the public.

You might’ve heard of the program the city will use to keep track of all this finance data: Microsoft Excel.

Bob Guz with the City Clerk’s office explains that in the past, sitting council members and council candidates had to file campaign finance information as stacks of paper.

That process will not change. But, instead of staff scanning these paper documents onto the City’s website, they’ll upload a second version: an Excel spreadsheet of the same information that current council members and future candidates have filled out. The idea is to make the information more searchable, he says.

“Say I wanted to find out if a single individual had made contributions to multiple candidates,” he says. “Well, now you’ll have that in a database format to be able to sort it out that way.”

All of this is due to be in place by the next filing deadline on Jan. 15. The finance information will then be posted on the City of Austin’s website in February, although, City Clerk Janette Goodall says they’ll be working out kinks beyond that time.

“For the Feb. 1 deadline for publishing that information, it may not be pretty,” she says. “But we’ll have it out there.”

For future campaign finance deadlines, the city estimates they’ll seek to publish the information one business day after the due date.

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