Sandor Lederer: K-Monitor - Watchdog for Public Funds

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Presentation at the workshop Political watchdogs - Lessons Learned from Data-driven Campaigns ( bit.ly/watchdog11)

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Sandor Lederer: K-Monitor - Watchdog for Public Funds

  1. 1. K-Monitor Watchdog for Public Funds - Introduction - K-Monitor database - Ahalo.hu database
  2. 2. Introduction • Founded in 2007 as a grassroot NGO • Professional operation since 2010 • 5 employees • Main donors: OSF, CEE Trust, EU, Embassies + V4 fund, individual donations • Annual budget around $ 150.000
  3. 3. Main pillars of operation • Anti-corruption advocacy • Research • Data Projects Special focus on Open Government Data
  4. 4. Anti-corruption advocacy • Advocating for reforms and assessing government policy in the following fields: • Public procurements, • Asset declarations, • FOI issues, • Party and campaign financing • Whistleblower protection • Lobby regulation • Monitoring the OGP process of the Hungarian government • Monitoring the implementation of the government’s anti-corruption programme • Monitoring campaign costs of the elections in April 2014 • Anti-corruption minimum campaign
  5. 5. Research • Research on whistleblower protection in the CEE region (2011) • Chapter on anti-corruption agencies in TI’s NIS (2011) • Research on the transparency of public procurements in the V4 region (2012) • Mid-term evaluation of the government from the corruption perspective (2012) • Local research country correspondent for the EU’s anti-corruption report (2013-) •Evaluation of the government-term from the perspective of corruption (2014) • „Red flags” in public procurements (with TI Hungary) (2014-2015) • Stringer for research companies
  6. 6. Open Data Projects • k-monitor.hu – database & map of corruption and public spending • ahalo.hu – database on public procurements, EU funds, agricultural subsidies, company information and elite networks • opendata.hu • Increasing civil efficiency through open data – project to enhance the capabilities of NGOs on how to use data in their advocy and communication activities • Partner in the project “Parliamentary Montoring for Transparency & Anti-Corruption in the V4 Region” • k-spots (2014) mobile app • Red flagging tool (2014-2015)
  7. 7. k-monitor.hu • Aim: Create a database and a map of corruption in Hungary • Objective information, • Traceable cases, • archiving local and old news as well • manual monitoring of the Hungarian online press
  8. 8. k-monitor.hu - database • K-Monitor’s first project • 2007 offline database • 2008 first webpage (Drupal) • 2010 new webpage • 2014 over 30000 articles
  9. 9. k-monitor.hu • Possible data sources? • Official data • only anonimously available • mostly on petty corruption • high latency • Press • lots of information but hard to collect • biased • libel cases possible • Whistleblowers (leaking vs. bribespot) • good visibility needed to receive stories • trustworthy? - danger of defamation • protection of personal data
  10. 10. k-monitor.hu • Methodology I. • Press articles + whistleblower reports (restricted access) • Only online press • Focus on most popular national & regional news portals • Daily monitoring + archives (earliest from 1998) • Record articles that report on eg. dubious spending of public funds (pf), corruption, misuse of pf, waste of pf, transparency of spending pfs, suspicious lobbying, conflict of interest, nepotism, fraud, embezzlement, bribery, cartel, etc.
  11. 11. k-monitor.hu • Methodology II. • Both specific cases and related issues in general • Record articles that confute an accusation, publishing rectifications • Tagging persons, institutions involved • Using predefined keywords that describe an article • Tagging locations • Filtering duplication of news • Creating summarising articles for major cases, recording the overall cost of corruption - if available
  12. 12. k-monitor.hu Search & browsing Taxonomy
  13. 13. k-monitor.hu - map • Cases connected to counties and townships • Points out the lack of investigative reporting outside of Budapest • Even cases in „dense” counties are mostly connected to national scandals
  14. 14. k-monitor.hu • Who are our users? • Citizens looking for information on politicans • Companies checking competitors or possible partners • Journalists looking for backgroud material • Researchers • Around 12000 invidual visitors a month • 2/3 through Google, 1/3 from referrals and directly • Awards • Justitia Regnorum Fundamentum Award from the Hungarian FOI & Data Protection Commissioner (Ombudsman) • Best practice in access to information at EU AC report 2014
  15. 15. k-monitor.hu • Further application of collected data: • Source for evaluation at Telenor ethical company award http://telenoretikusvallalatdij.hu/Palyazati_felhivas • Rankings of politicians, institutions http://vastagbor.blog.hu/2010/04/26/ub_2 • Timeline of cases http://buntetoeljarasok.transparency.hu/ • Create the network of people involved  aHalo • Served as red flag in OLAFs PP research • Media analysis: Assessment of portals excluding or leaving out specific topics
  16. 16. k-monitor.hu • Challenges • Code is not open source • Stories from blogs are getting more important • More specific locations needed • Maintenance is very time consuming • Hard to maintain high-quality with volunteers • Sustainabilty issues - donors • Counting costs of corruption is misleading • Even some decent people will hate you • Threats & lawsuits
  17. 17. k-monitor.hu • Future steps • Test methods to substitute or facilitate manual work • Turn it into open source and build an API • Revision of tags and articles according to experiences and new ideas • Use tags that describe processes • Introduce keywords that didn’t seem necessary but have to be applied for older articles • Incorporate blogs • More locally-focussed content  mobile app • Implement geo tagging  mobile app • Track relations between entities and actors in press articles 
  18. 18. ‘The Network’ at http://ahalo.hu
  19. 19. Basic idea: demonstrate the connection between people, companies and institutions from the K-Monitor database VS. Extended idea: Why not incorporating information from official sources and company registry?
  20. 20. …. Yes! why not? - Monstre project started in Summer 2011 - In cooperation with TI Hungary and the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union - Expected launch: October 2012, January 2013, May 2013, September 2013… - Accessible since October 2013 but still in beta version with lots of work to be done.
  21. 21. Disclosing and visualizing personal and business connections between Hungarian politicians and businesspeople SCRAPED DATA:  Election database  Procurement database  EU subsidies  Agricultural subsidies  Company information  NGO database  Investigative articles from K-Monitor’s corruption database MANUALLY EDITED: Type of relations (interpersonal, interorg, person/org) Data on more than 90.000 transactions (parties, value, type and subject of transactions, date, any related transaction) Data on more than 45.000 individuals (business interests and political affiliations), personal relationships (if known) Data on more than 40.000 organizations / institutions (stakeholders and officers of private companies, officers of municipalities, related transactions)
  22. 22. SHOW THE NETWORK MAP! AN EXAMPLE: THE PROFILE OF A MUNICIPALITY RELATED PEOPLE RELATED ORGANIZATIONS RELATED TRANSACTIONS NAME TYPE OF RELATION START DATE OF RELATION END DATE OF RELATION SOURCE OF RELATION
  23. 23. TOP TRANSACTIONS OF THE MUNICIPALITY
  24. 24. Mistakes: • The final project plan was too ambitious • Started the project without sufficient capacities – No proper analysis of the availability of quality data when merging the two project concepts – No experience with such data intensive projects (scraping, mashing, cleaning databases) – No sufficient capacity for cleaning data – Little financial capacities to correct errors – Treating developer as partner, not subcontractor
  25. 25. Unfortunate: • Academics we wanted to partner with acted as rivals • Data sources changed regularly • Developer had to be fired - hard to find a good ruby developer in Hungary
  26. 26. Lessons learnt: • Properly assess your capacities in advance • Start at the basics • Find a good developer and experts before the implementation • Be able to give up parts of the project • Start testing it as soon as possible
  27. 27. Success: • Managed to mash up data that have not been linked before • Created unique content • Great experiences and lessons for future projects • Solid base for further developments
  28. 28. ahalo.hu – other projects: Red flags PUBLIC PROCUREMENTS OF THE MUNICIPALITY
  29. 29. k-monitor.hu – other projects kspots
  30. 30. Thank you! Sandor Lederer lederer@k-monitor.hu

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