OpenSpending A Year in Review

Written by
  • lucy
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Just before I turn on my autoresponder and submerge my computer into the blackness of holiday in a concrete box to which I have no access, I thought I’d just quickly wrap up a few of the highlights from this amazing year. It has been very intense - but we’ve covered a lot of ground, here’s a few highlights…


The year kicked off and we launched the Spending Data Working group. This fantastic group of people include some of the world experts and techies who are passionate about linking up the money flows across the world. They meet and natter via the OpenSpending mailing list - drop them a line and join the conversation!


We were also approached by Privacy International, to ask whether they could use OpenSpending’s global search to find out which governments were purchasing surveillance equipment to spy on their citizens. My favourite spending story so far - we had no idea people would use OpenSpending like that!

We also headed out to Bosnia for the first time, where we met the Centre for Public Interest Advocacy - with whom we have now launched a project to build a version of Where Does My Money Go for Bosnia…Luckily - we’d just packaged up the Where Does My Money Go Assembly kit, to make it a lot easier for people to build their own versions of the site…

March - May

We put on our scout hats and set out to find some of the most interesting uses of Technology to promote Fiscal Transparency and showcased them in the GIFT report. We’re still looking for these, so if there are any you’d like to point us to let us know.


Off to Perugia for an epic data-journalism training session with the European Journalism Centre… At Perugia the Data Journalism Handbook launched. Also in April, we built the widgets that allowed anyone to embed OpenSpending’s visualisations in a website/blogpost (like this - Nigeria’s proposed budget for 2013!:)

We promise we’ll write up the widgets soon, we really should tell people about them!


We finally got a BETA version of the IATI dataset loaded into OpenSpending. There are still a lot of gaps to fill. But it’s up! Interested in helping to fill the gaps - the guys on the Open Development List are your friends.

July & August

Image credits: quapan on Flickr

Lucy kicked off the Athens to Berlin series travelling Europe to get a better understanding of the problems faced by organisations working in the field of government financial transparency all around Europe… Then - no rest for the wicked - she and Laura Newman headed out to India to continue the quest.


<img alt=”” src=”” title=”Spending data handbook” class=”pull-right” style=”margin-left: 1em;”width=”250” />

OKFestival! And we had a fantastic panel - the Money and the Many bringing together members of the working group on open spending data from 3 continents to share their experiences on barriers and challenges in engaging citizens en masse to care about the issues presented in budgets and spending.

We also worked with to help build an oversight tool to see which departments were complying with their transparency obligations… handy…


We got our act together and did something we’d been meaning to for ages. Drawing up a straw-man for a standard for transaction-level spending data, and the discussions began. We’ll continue these discussions in the New Year. Interested in adding your thoughts? Here’s your channel.

A bonus for us was that both Libération and Le Monde used OpenSpending widgets to illustrate their articles on debates around the newly announced PLF. Both slightly different takes on the data and had sliced it in different ways - great to see…


Ouch - November was packed. We kicked off at MozFest with the School of Data Expeditions, where our lovely new addition to the team, Lisa Evans lead the mini army of tax evasion-spotters. From there ran headlong straight into a 4 day Spending Data Handbook Sprint and then headed out to Bosnia for the kickoff workshop of our Bosnia project.

For Friedrich, who can never get enough of back to back travelling, it didn’t end there. From Bosnia he headed straight back to London for the Open Interests Hackathon, while I headed out to New York to attend the second TABridge session - bringing together techies and transparency organisations from around the world and locking them into an enclosed space until they solve the transparency needs of the world using technology ;) Lots of great people met, loads of hatchling projects…


And so it was December already. We’re looking forward to welcoming on board new team members in January. With a bigger team to juggle all of the exciting projects coming up in the new year, we’re really looking forward to seeing the results next year…

See you in January! And if you get a moment in between munching on mince pies and fancy doing some armchair auditing, you know where we are ;)