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OpenSpending News Round-up, August 26

Written by
  • Teodora Beleaga
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Fiscal transparency never sleeps, and neither does the OpenSpending community. To keep track of all happenings across the open spending spectrum, we’re rounding up on latest blogs, stories and datasets each week. But we’re only human, so if we miss anything, give us a nudge at info [at] openspending [dot] org.

Updates from around the community

First things first, today marks the start of our big move of OpenSpending web content from http://openspending.org to http://blog.openspending.org and, as you may remember, you’re invited! Our chief technical writer and analyst, Neil Ashton is leading the move and has set-up this spreadsheet to track changes. Should you wish to collaborate on this project contact Neil directly so he can hook you up on the platform.

Elsewhere in the community, we held a Google Hangout last Wednesday where members had a chance to play with a prototype app created in partnership with agency Journalism++ which aims to help citizens understand spending figures. We also discussed suggestions for the IMF on its consultation over the Fiscal Transparency Code (last updated in 2007). You can review our notes here and add your own by Friday, 30 August 2013.

OpenSpending community member, and principal consultant at Public Sector Credit Solutions, Marc Joffe, received a well-deserved grant from the Sunlight Foundation for his work on opening up Californian fiscal data at a local government level. The project aims to continue to gather financial disclosures and process them into standardised data. Read more here and here.

Lastly, as you would expect, the work to open spending data and visualise government budgets very much continued here last week. From Brazil, Vitor Baptista shared how they used the OpenSpending API to visualise Brazilian government spending. Take a look at their graphics here and also check out how they went about solving key challenges, including a limit to the aggregate API which only allows users to request a measure at a time -  all in his post here.

Financial transparency around the world

In the UK, the department for Business Innovation and Skills (in short BIS) shared with the OpenSpending community a tool they put together to help visualise spending - sounds familiar? - check out the beta version at: http://www.gist.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/.

Elsewhere around the world, in Qatar, government spending was reported to be on the rise, up 2.2% to $48.9bn. In the US, small businesses turned out to be “poorly positioned” to acquire federal contracts, while in Tunisia, fiscal stamps fees were increased to tackle the budget deficit.

We also came across this post on potential savings big data solutions can bring to government spending. While the study referenced focuses on the US, several ideas can be applied across other countries too. Any thoughts? Please share in the comments below.

New datasets on OpenSpending Datasets

There is still much data to be claimed from last month’s mammoth uploads of spending data from Moldova’s BOOST data to Portugal’s transactional spending data. Our team of data wranglers have been busy cleaning these up for you. You can track their progress here and maybe give them a hand if you feel up to the challenge.

Did we miss anything?

While we strive to produce a comprehensive snippet of the fiscal transparency landscape across the world, this mammoth task gets the better of us every once in awhile. When that happens we trust we can rely on the wonderful community at the heart of OpenSpending to give us a nudge at info [at] openspending [dot] org.