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SFOpenBook Frequently Asked Questions

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What can I find on SFOpenBook?
SFOpenBook provides easy access to a number of interactive tools, reports and other content to shed light on the City’s economy, finances, and operational performance. The site’s main features include:

      Spending & Revenues
      Browse historical City spending and revenue data including vendor payment detail and staffing levels using an interactive tool. For more help and information go to the Spending & Revenue help pages.

      Budget
      Browse City budget data using an interactive tool. For more help and information go to the Budget help pages.

      Citywide Reports
      View Citywide reports of payments to the vendors the City does business with. If you would rather search for payments made to one vendor, department or type of good or service use the Spending and Revenue report.

      Employee Compensation
      View summary information about City employee compensation. For more help and information go to the Employee Compensation help pages.

      Government Performance
      View reports on performance measures that track the results, outcomes and efficiency of services and programs. This data is provided by departments and reported by the Controller’s Office’s City Performance Unit.

      Economic Indicators
      View a set of San Francisco economic and demographic indicators. The Office of Economic Analysis’ Economic Barometer reviews general economy-wide employment indicators, as well as major sectors of the City's economy, including real estate, tourism, and retail.

      Open Data
      Visit the data.sfgov.org website to access City datasets, such as financial, crime and 311 service request data. These can be used by anyone using common software such as spreadsheet or database applications or by software developers to develop mobile device applications.

Where can I find the City Budget?
Proposed and Adopted Budgets can be accessed on the Controller’s Budget Ordinances page. The Mayor’s Proposed Budget, which also includes explanatory information about recent revenue and expenditure trends, can be found at the Mayor’s Office of Public Policy and Finance website.

Where does the City and County of San Francisco get its money? What taxes do San Franciscans pay to the City?
The City and County of San Francisco generates revenue from a variety of sources. Revenue sources include but are not limited to: property taxes, business taxes, other local taxes (parking tax for example), rents & concessions, license & permit fees, State of California revenue, Federal revenue, and interest & investment income. Additionally, some Departments generate their own revenue through charges for services. Some examples include the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, the Port of San Francisco, the San Francisco International Airport Commission, and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA).

For next year’s budget, will the City have a surplus (more revenues than spending) or a deficit (more spending than revenues)?
The City and County of San Francisco is legally required by the State of California to balance its budget each year. This means that revenues and spending are equal.

What has the City and County of San Francisco actually spent compared to what was originally authorized by the Mayor and Board of Supervisors?
The Controller’s Office provides periodic budget status reports that use current expenditure and revenue information to project whether the City will have a surplus or shortfall in the current fiscal year.

When do the Mayor and Supervisors pass a budget?
Below is a description of the budget process timetable. Please note that the process may differ slightly year to year.
DecemberJanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJuly
Mayor & Controller issue policy and technical budget instructions. Departments conduct hearings on the proposed departmental budgets. Departments submit proposed budgets to the Controller. The Controller submits departmental proposed budgets to Mayor's Office. Mayor's Budget Office analyzes department budget proposals. In even-numbered years, the Mayor issues a fixed 2-Year Proposed Budget for enterprise departments.

Budget Committee conducts public hearings.
Each year, the Mayor issues a rolling 2-Year Proposed Budget for non-enterprise departments.

Board of Supervisors adopts interim Annual Appropriation Ordinance
The Board of Supervisors adopts the budget.


How do I give input on the budget?
Anyone can provide input during the budget process by speaking at public hearings in City Hall. Meetings may also be held in districts so those who cannot attend a meeting in City Hall have an opportunity to participate. Please visit the Board of Supervisors website for a schedule of upcoming meetings, call the Clerk of the Board at 415-554-5184, or contact your district’s Supervisor. Additionally, you can call or write your elected officials throughout the budget process. Speak out early so that your representatives know what you think and have time to consider and act on your opinion.

What is the outlook for the City’s budget in the next few years?
In each odd-numbered year, the City publishes a Five-Year Financial Plan that forecasts expenditures and revenues in future years and proposes steps to reach a balanced budget. In each even-numbered year, the City publishes a Five-Year Financial Plan Update with an updated estimated summary budget for the remaining four years of the City’s five-year financial plan.

Where can I find information on General Obligation bonds and proposals?
On March 5, 2002 the San Francisco voters adopted Proposition F, the Citizen Oversight of Bond Expenditures initiative. The Ordinance established a committee of nine members (the Citizens’ General Obligation Bond Oversight Committee) for the purpose of informing the public concerning the expenditure of general obligation bond proceeds through active review and the publishing of regular reports. To learn more about the committee and find information on General Obligation Bonds, please visit the committee website.

Does the City and County of San Francisco have a credit rating?
Yes. You will find information regarding the City’s credit ratings at the Office of Public Finance’s website.

Who are the vendors that sell to the City and County of San Francisco, and how much does the City pay them?
For vendor information, please visit the Controller’s Office Vendor Information website. You can search for vendor payments by vendor, department, type of good or service and more (optionally including document detail) using the Spending and Revenue tool, or run Vendor Payment Summaries (without document detail) using the Citywide Reports page.

What is the compensation for City and County employees?
You can search for total employee compensation by year, organization, fund, job, and more using the Spending and Revenue tool, or get payroll summary detail by employee using the Employee Compensation page.

Are there audits of City government finances and performance?
Yes. The City Services Auditor was created within the Controller’s Office through an amendment to the City Charter that was approved by voters in November 2003. Under Appendix F to the City Charter, the City Services Auditor has broad authority for:
  • Reporting on the level and effectiveness of San Francisco’s public services and benchmarking the city to other public agencies and jurisdictions.
  • Conducting financial and performance audits of city departments, contractors, and functions to assess efficiency and effectiveness of processes and services.
  • Operating a whistleblower hotline and website and investigating reports of waste, fraud, and abuse of city resources.
  • Ensuring the financial integrity and improving the overall performance and efficiency of city government. The audits unit conducts financial audits in accordance with the Government Auditing Standards published by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), attestation engagements, and performance audits. You can view audit and city performance reports at the City Services Auditor Reports page.