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How to build a budget transparency site: 5 easy steps


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My presentation from the Open Government Partnership 2013 summit in London.

Lessons learned from our experience building OpenSpending sites around the world.

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How to build a budget transparency site: 5 easy steps

  1. 1. 5 easy steps to building a budget monitoring site PRESENTED BY Lucy Chambers @lucyfedia / @openspending CC-By v3 Licensed (all jurisdictions)
  2. 2. Quick overview ● The key steps in producing a budget monitoring site ● Tools you can use to help you along the way ● Things to ask for from your government ● A quiz ● Lots of animated images
  3. 3. Create tools, skills and communities Data => Knowledge Knowledge => Action
  4. 4. OpenSpending A global community: Creating an open map of government money
  5. 5. THE STEPS Y! L L A R CC-By v3 Licensed (all jurisdictions)
  6. 6. STEP 1: What question are you trying to answer? / What problem are you trying to solve?
  7. 7. Help citizens understand political processes? Source: Source: The Guardian HINT: DON’T USE FLASH! Source: Budget Allocator
  8. 8. Help citizens see how government spending relates to them personally? Source: Source:
  9. 9. Help correct misconceptions? Source:
  10. 10. Strip PR from dialogue around budgets spending? “My Name is XXXX, I am a member of the Kenyan parliament for the constituency of XXXX in the 2007-2012 election cycle. During my time in parliament, I have positioned myself against taxes for MPs. Of the Development Funds allocated to my constituency, I have spent 12mn KSH in 2010 and 8mn KSH in 2009. Since 2007, I’ve funded 201 projects, of which 72 (9mn KSH) related to Education, 56 (7.2mn KSH) related to Health and 20 (4.2mn KSH) to Infrastructure. The largest projects I have funded include… “ - See more at:
  11. 11. Push for more, better information
  12. 12. STEP 2: Find Get Clean NOTE: These steps take approximately 70% of the time on most OpenSpending projects
  13. 13. Supply-side obstacles preventing re-use of data No bulk download
  14. 14. Governments often don’t like to release financial data Ministry of Finance reacts to FOI-request for the 2013 budget data
  15. 15. Sometimes data is only available in paper copy Government official: “Please receive our annual audit reports in this stack of papers.”
  16. 16. Even when released electronically, data is still rarely machine readable
  17. 17. It’s work to clean up and format!
  18. 18. Some data cleaning tools can help! ● Excel & Google Spreadsheets for basic cleaning ● Open Refine - for cleaning spreadsheets ● Tabula - for converting PDF-tables Resources from Open Knowledge Foundation: ● School of Data
  19. 19. STEP 3: Analyse Transform
  20. 20. National budget data Map it to international COFOG classifications (then translate to human) Advanced: Compare the budget to the actual spent amount
  21. 21. STEP 4: Present
  22. 22. A quick quiz
  23. 23. Visualisation Tools OpenSpending DataWrapper D3.js
  24. 24. Some last tips ;-)
  25. 25. STEP 5: RALLY! Ask yourself: ● What is my call to action? ● Is it easy to find? ● Are there opportunities for people to get more deeply involved?
  26. 26. Ask yourself, is a site the right delivery mechanism? Source:
  27. 27. Collaborate and you will win! Get your friends together and build broad coalitions
  28. 28. Source: bjornmeansbear - Flickr
  29. 29. So let’s get to work! The OpenSpending community is always in your corner!
  30. 30. My calls to action
  31. 31. http://apps.openspending. org/oscontactsmap/
  32. 32. SHAMELESS PLUG: Join us now for the Joined Up Data session: