OpenSpending around the world, Week 11

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We’re bringing you an update with news from OpenSpending and financial transparency around the world.

Fresh data and activities from OpenSpending

Tajima Itsuro has written an excellent guide in Japanese for uploading data to OpenSending.

The Open Data Census demonstrated that several countries like Slovenia, Czech Republic and Italy (for EU Structural Funds) have released transactional spending data, which yet have to make it onto OpenSpending. If you can to help to get the data up on OpenSpending, we’ve added links and other information in this GoogleDoc.

We’re also working to visualise the cities who are already on OpenSpending. You can help by adding cities in this GoogleDoc.

Last week we had a community call with Alan Hudson from ONE, where we discussed: “How to use spending data to estimate unit costs and development outputs across the world?” The agenda from the call is available here and we’ll follow up with more information about the ideas we discussed.

Spending transparency around the world

Health spending: Back in January Steven Brill published the long read article The Bitter Pill, in which he documented the lack of pricing transparency on the American health care market. The story led to this podcast on Planet Money, where they discussed the key sources of the piece - the medical bill and the untransparent pricing at American hospitals.

EU Structural funds: Consultant and analyst Luiggi Reggi has mapped the various formats member states, when publishing spending data from the EU Structural Fund at national and regional sites. The study shows that Italy and Poland are among the countries delivering machine redable CSV-files, whereas countries like Germany and Spain only release data in PDF.

EU fish subsidies: Last month the European Commission published a report highlighting the poor quality of data on fish subsidies and over fishing. About Spain, the biggest receiver of fish subsidies, the report concluded: “A comparable and objective evaluation of overfishing and of economic sustainability is not possible due to absence of data.”

Tax app: In Philadelphia (US) the initiative to reassess property taxes in the city spured the development of an app documenting changes in tax payments parcel by parcel.


Marc Maxson used the model of Benford’s Law to analyse financial data from a few public agenices in Kenya and an international non-profit. Benford’s Law can be used to assess distributions across financial transactions to detect irregularities, which can be an indicator of corruption.

Pulbish What You Fund launched this week a comprehensive Aid Transparency Tracker. Mark Brough explains how it works here.

Events and deadlines on our radar

March 18: Deadline for proposals for the News Challenge of the Knight Foundation.

March 19: OpenData “Maker” night in London. OpenSpending will be looking into UK government finances at the. RSVP here

March 25: Deadline for proposals for Journalism Grants on international development issues.

May 3-4: Data Harvest will bring geeks, journalists and civi hackers together in Brussels to wrangle EU spending data from farm subsidies and the Comission. We’ll be there and regsistration is now open.

We’re hosting bi-monthly community calls, and are eager to hear your ideas for topics we should cover. How to get involved? Join the discussion on our mailing list.