Guidelines for Public Finance Data Dissemination and Access


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Final Guidelines from the Twinning Project "Improving Data Quality on Public Accounts"
Authors: A.Pennisi, G.Florio, C. Salvi, C. Vaccari
May 2012

Published in: Technology, Economy & Finance
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Guidelines for Public Finance Data Dissemination and Access

  1. 1. The Twining project, an institutional cooperation between Italy and Turkey, is co-financed by the European Union and the Republic of Turkey. EU TWINNING PROJECT “Improving Data Quality in Public Accounts” GUIDELINES FOR PUBLIC FINANCE DATA DISSEMINATION AND ACCESS Final version Activity 1.7 May 2012 1
  2. 2. Table of contents1. Foreword.......................................................................................................................... 32. International requirements and good practices ................................................................ 4 2.1 International initiatives ................................................................................................ 4 2.2 Fundamental aspects of fiscal transparency and public accounts data dissemination5 Comprehensiveness ............................................................................................... 5 Reliability .............................................................................................................. 6 Comparability (in time and space) and timeliness .................................................... 7 Understandable to the public .................................................................................. 9 2.3 What is a Citizens’ Budget .......................................................................................... 9 Main elements of a Citizens’ Budget ...................................................................... 11 Citizens’ Budget style and format .......................................................................... 13 Citizens’ Budget dissemination .............................................................................. 13 2.4 New challenges for fiscal transparency: open government data ............................... 16 Some benefits of open data inside and outside the public administration................. 20 “Open” public finance data ................................................................................... 203. Technological solutions.................................................................................................. 28 3.1 System architecture for data dissemination at GDPA ............................................... 29 3.2 Geographical Information System (GIS) ................................................................... 32 3.3 Statistical tools for data management ....................................................................... 33 3.4 Data Warehouse ....................................................................................................... 34 3.5 Data Visualization ..................................................................................................... 35 3.6 Open Data tools ........................................................................................................ 39 3.7 Interoperability to data .............................................................................................. 404. Public understanding and involvement .......................................................................... 44 4.1 Public consultations .................................................................................................. 44 4.1 Promoting data use and re-use through websites and competitions ......................... 45 2
  3. 3. 1. ForewordThe foundation of modern public financial reporting lies in the communication of financialinformation about the government’s activities to citizens and their representatives inParliament. Indeed, fiscal transparency is a key aspect of the accountability for the way inwhich governments raise taxes, borrow, and spend public money and, since the latenineties, it is increasingly a requirement of international obligations (e.g., within the IMF,the OECD and the European Union).Fiscal transparency requires providing information about past, present and future activitiesof government in collecting and allocating public resources and in a way that it be: • comprehensive, reliable, timely, comparable in time and space, understandable to the public • easily accessible, at detailed level (raw data), re-useable (i.e. open data)Although there is room for debate on the benefits of wide access to public finance details,there is a broad consensus on the fact that fiscal transparency is relevant for: • Better informed decisions (in government and outside it) o it helps to highlight potential risks to the fiscal outlook, resulting in an earlier and smoother fiscal policy response to changing economic conditions o it enables public debate which may improve resource allocation o greater oversight by civil society and international markets encourages governments to pursue sound economic policies and achieve greater financial stability • Increased accountability of policy action o it strengthens credibility and public understanding of macroeconomic policies and choices o it may enhance social consensus on difficult trade-offs in the context of limited resources and multiple demands • Increased accountability of public officials o tracking expenditure and knowing whether it has gone to where was planned makes it easier to detect (and reduce) corruption • Better access to capital markets o Investors are reassured by more transparent governments and therefore a more willing to facilitate access to international capital marketsThese Guidelines aim at improving the GDPA capacity for data publication and accessibilityaccording to the following viewpoints: contents; technological solutions (IT architectureand software platforms) and public understanding and involvement (media, citizens,NGOs). Particular focus is made on opportunities for public accounts dissemination andcommunication through open data. Each topic is presented briefly and accompanied by amore extensive list of examples, references and websites. 3
  4. 4. 2. International requirements and good practices2.1 International initiativesGuidelines and assessments on the extent to which countries satisfy them are promotedby international organizations and civil society organizations.The major on-going initiatives are:1) IMF Fiscal Transparency Code (since 1998, revised in 2007)In 1998, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) introduced a Code of Good Practices onFiscal Transparency which led to a voluntary program of fiscal transparency assessmentscalled fiscal transparency modules of Reports on the Observance of Standards and Codes(ROSC). The Code provides a comprehensive framework for fiscal transparency andfocuses on clear roles and responsibilities, transparent budget processes, public availabilityof information, and assurances of integrity. To expand and explain the principles of theCode, and to help guide the conduct of fiscal ROSCs, a Manual on Fiscal Transparency wasreleased and revised in 2007. OECD Best Practices for Budget Transparency (since 2001)The OECD best practices for budget transparency are a reference tool supporting the fulldisclosure of all relevant fiscal information in a timely and systematic manner and providea series of best practices in the areas of principal budget reports, specific disclosures,quality, and integrity. Open Budget Initiative (since 2005)The International Budget Partnership conducts, in collaboration with civil society aroundthe world, a biennial Open Budget Survey and Index, providing ratings of the openness ofbudget material in over 60 countries. The detailed and systematic survey of currentpractice is performed by local experts (in Turkey TESEV). The Index assesses theavailability of key budget documents, the quantity of information they provide, and thetimeliness of their dissemination to citizens in order to provide reliable information on eachcountry’s commitment to budget transparency and accountability.http://www.openbudgetindex.org4) Open Government Partnership (OGP) on Budget Transparency (since 2011)The Open Government Partnership is a multilateral initiative advance in 2011. It aim tosecure commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fightcorruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. OGP is overseen by a 4
  5. 5. steering committee of eight governments and nine civil society organizations. It has aspecific module on budget transparency and reporting standards. One of the coreprinciples states “Transparency: information on government activities and decisions isopen, comprehensive, timely, freely available to the public and meets basic open datastandards (e.g. raw data, machine readability)” Box 1: Key budget reports for the public Internationally accepted good practices require governments to publish at least eight key budget reports at various points in the budget year: • Pre-Budget Statement • Executive’s Budget Proposal • Enacted Budget • Citizens Budget • In-Year Monthly Reports • Mid-Year Review • Year-End Report • Audit Report.2.2 Fundamental aspects of fiscal transparency and public accounts datadisseminationThe dissemination of data on public accounts should follow basic principles, such ascomprehensiveness, reliability, timeliness, comparability in time and space, and beingunderstandable to the public. Hereafter a selection of the main features connected to eachprinciple.ComprehensivenessThe budget documentation, including the final accounts, and other publishedfiscal reports should cover all budgetary and extra-budgetary activities: • Extra-budgetary activities are transactions of general government entities that are not included in the budget appropriation laws. Examples: o transactions related to commercial activities of government agencies (user fees) that are not included in their budgeted revenue and expenditure; o social security funds, o nonmarket nonprofit institutions, financed by government transfers or earmarked revenues o revolving funds o tax expenditures 5
  6. 6. o contingent liabilities o quasi-fiscal activities • The central government should publish information on the level and composition of its debt and financial assets, significant non-debt liabilities (including pension rights, guarantee exposure, and other contractual obligations), and natural resource assets. • The budget documentation should report the fiscal position of sub-national governments and the finances of public corporations. • The overall balance and gross debt of the general government should be standard summary indicators of the government fiscal position. They should be supplemented, where appropriate, by other fiscal indicators, such as the primary balance, the public sector balance, and net debt.ReliabilityFiscal data should meet accepted data quality standards, related to definitions andclassifications: • accounting policies meet generally accepted accounting standards; • international standard classifications to be used for economic and functional descriptions (e.g. COFOG / SEC), on the side of national classificationsand related to checking the data: • automated procedures are used to facilitate the monitoring of the accuracy of data reported by individual government sector units for internal consistency testing of each institution’s data (e.g., cross-checks). Data inconsistencies and out-of-trend values are confirmed with reporting units, and documented. • source data are assessed by checking across different sources (e.g., payables by one part of the general government are equal to receivables by another, checking independent creditor and debtor sources, and domestic bank financing records compared with banking records, etc.). • sound techniques are in place to estimate missing data, when relevant (to deal with coverage problems). • final accounts are fully reconciled with budget appropriationsAn in-depth treatment of this issue is found in the IMF’s July 2003 Data QualityAssessment Framework and Data Quality Program, at and 6
  7. 7. Comparability (in time and space) and timeliness o fiscal aggregate outcomes are compared with previous forecasts and with outturns of previous years o international classifications, alongside national ones, are used for economic and functional representations (such as ESA95 and COFOG) o dissemination of advance-release calendars o simultaneous release to all interested parties Box 2: OECD Best Practices on monthly reports o Monthly updates on expenditures and revenues should show progress in implementing the budget: • They should be released within four weeks of the end of each month. • They should contain the amount of revenue and expenditure in each month and year- to-date. • A comparison should be made with the forecast amounts of monthly revenue and expenditure for the same period. Any in-year adjustments to the original forecast should be shown separately. • A brief commentary should accompany the numerical data. If a significant divergence between actual and forecast amounts occurs, an explanation should be made. • Expenditures should be classified by major administrative units (e.g., ministry, agency). Supplementary information classifying expenditure by economic and functional categories should also be presented. • Information on commitments should be provided in addition to information on payments • The reports should also contain information on the government’s borrowing activity Source: 7
  8. 8. Box 3: The Open Budget Index (OBI) for TurkeyThe Open Budget Index is an initiative of the International Budget Partnership. It assignscountries a transparency score on a 100-point scale using 92 questions from a detailed Surveyfocusing on whether the government provides the public with timely access to comprehensiveinformation contained in eight key budget documents. The last Survey was conducted in 2010:According to the Open Budget Surveys conducted since 2006, Turkey’s ranking has consistentlyimproved from 42 points over 100 in 2006 to 57 in 2010. The overall situation is comparable toseveral neighboring countries (including Italy), but it is lower than EU average.Figure 1: OBI Scores 2010 Turkey, Italy and other major EU countries• .Source: Open Budget Index 2010.The main OBI recommendations in 2010 for Turkey concerned the following data disseminationareas: • improving the comprehensiveness of the Executive’s Budget Proposal, Year-End Report and Audit Report (in particular by including information on extra-budgetary funds, quasi-fiscal activities, tax expenditures, contingent and future liabilities, and financial and other assets; and by helping to explain the relationship between the government’s revenue and expenditure plans and its policy and macroeconomic goals; and by adding information on outputs and outcomes) • publishing a Mid-Year Review and increasing data in Monthly In-Year reports (which lack information on the specific characteristics of external debt, such as maturity, interest rate and currency denomination) • producing a Citizens Budget; • providing opportunities for the public to testify at legislative hearings on the budget; • increasing the powers of the legislature to provide more comprehensive oversight not only when the budget is being approved but also during the budget execution periodFor more information see: 8
  9. 9. Understandable to the publicThe understanding of the budget process by individual citizens and non-governmentalorganizations should actively be promoted. In particular, the public should be providedwith comprehensive information on past, current, and projected fiscal activity and onmajor fiscal risks. Fiscal information should be presented in a way that facilitates policyanalysis and promotes accountability. Regularly reports, should be published in a simplelanguage. There should be a commitment to make timely publication of fiscal informationwritten in a simple language which can be easily understood by the public at large. Thepublication should also contain a description of the budget process, including the roles ofthe executive branch, in preparing the budget and of the legislature in authorisinggovernment taxation, borrowing, and expenditure.This objective can be achieved presenting fiscal information in a way that facilitatespolicy analysis: While selecting the information to public the following two concepts shouldbe kept in mind Fiscal data should be reported on a gross basis, distinguishing revenue, expenditure, and financing Expenditure should be classified by economic, functional, and administrative category.In addition: o A clear and simple summary guide to the budget should be widely distributed at the time of the annual budget. o Budget presentations and accounts should contain clear statements of the government’s objectives (e.g. missions and programs) as well as a listing of the items on which money is spent (as in traditional line-item budgeting). o Results of previous policies should also be evaluated against their stated objectives, by measuring also measure outputs and outcomes in relation to these objectives.The government’s work is highly technical and to make public finance data understandableit is often not sufficient to simply disclose specialized documents e statistics. Promoting aCitizens’ Budget in a language that ordinary people can understand and appreciate is away to facilitate communication to the public.2.3 What is a Citizens’ BudgetFinancial data provided by governments are not always easily understood by the generalpublic for various reasons: because they may be presented in a highly technical way,according to aggregates and categories relevant to the administrations operations but notthe citizens main interests. This may impede citizens capability to understand where their 9
  10. 10. financial contribution goes. A Citizens’ budget is a tool for empowering citizens to beaware of the budget process and to follow how budgetary resources are used. It is thus atool to understand the whole budget process and its implementation and to contribute toaccountability and transparency of service providers for public administrations.The International Budget Partnership (IBP) definition for Citizens’ Budget is “A citizenbudget is a non-technical presentation of the government budget which is intended toenable the public-including those who are not familiar with public finance-understandgovernment plans”.Generally speaking, a Citizens’ budget is a collective term for various ways to involvecitizens in the budget process and allocation of financial resources. The concept wasstarted in the late 1980s in the city of Porto Alegre (Brazil) and since then, it has spread toall continents and is currently active at country, regional and local level in many placesaround the world. Today, thanks to ICT technology, a Citizens’ budget can become aninteractive tool for governments and public institutions to receive feedback from citizenson matters of public interest.Usually, a Citizens’ Budget is mainly aimed at the communication to the public Executive’sBudget Proposal. In this case it should be produced at the same time the budget ispresented to the legislature. In some cases, the Citizens’ Budget is in fact based on theEnacted Budget or Budget Law and illustrates presenting the estimate of income receivedby the State, as well as the expenditures estimates that are authorized to the institutionsso they can execute programs and projects; which in turn translates into public servicesfinanced by taxes that have been collected. However, a clear understanding of what hasactually happened during the Budget Execution through the representation of theoutturns/end-of-year financial statement and how much or why it has differed from theinitial plans is equally as important.Broadly speaking, a Citizen’s budget should be aim at: • guaranteeing the right of citizens to have access to detailed information on governments activities as they are the main contributors • improving communication through the implementation of actions which are more visible and closer to citizens in order to increase general consent on future government policies; • raising a clear perception of the services offered and though which expenditure • managing realistic expectations among citizens in how public money are used. • preventing media communications crisis due to misunderstanding in the data interpretation • enhancing accountability.Citizens’ budget, in order to be successful, needs of course to be integrated into a largergovernance agenda, and should involve the cooperation with civil society, goodgovernance and rule of law which have been proved to be increasingly critical elements inguaranteeing transparency. 10
  11. 11. In most cases the Citizens’ Budget is the result of a joint work among: • the Directorate in charge of the overall Budget preparation and monitoring (such as the General Directorate of Public Accounts) • the IT Department, in charge of implementing the IT system for data inclusion and storage • the Press Office/Communication office, for the preparation of the tools and events in order to make the public at large aware of the budget.Main elements of a Citizens’ BudgetCitizens’ Budget should thus include the following main principles:Clarity of roles and responsibilities: a clear explanation of the structure and functionsof the government, of the responsibilities within government, and of the relations betweengovernment and the rest of the economy should be provided in order to better understandthe mechanisms which lay behind the budget structure;Open budget processes: some information about how a budget is prepared, executed,and monitored is also essential;Public availability of information: specification of the coverage, detail, and timing offiscal information should also be provided to the public;Assurance of integrity: a description of how the quality of fiscal data is guaranteed.Although there is no agreement on the definition, purposes and contents of a Citizens’Budget, these are some of the common features in most countries: Highlighting the budget priorities Presenting a broad introduction to the key components of the budget Examples on how the budget will impact ordinary citizens and significant new measures Fiscal balance over medium term horizon Promoting transparency and access to budget information also by other means (mentioned in the Citizens’ Budget)The Citizens’ Budget should present what is the estimated / actual revenue and what isestimated / actual expenditure: by function (or sector); by purpose (or objective o program) by administrative unit; by economic category (e.g. wages and salaries, interest, capital expenditures) by geographical location by financing sourceand where applicable: by major programme by funding line 11
  12. 12. The following is an example check-list of information which are of interest for the citizens Check-List of information to be provided to citizens Determining the information the citizen want is a main step to prepare a good citizens’ budget As regards income the following questions should be addressed: How much of the government’s activities does the budget cover? Which is the profile of the different tax-payers? (how many different types of taxes? which kind of taxes?) Are there any external financial sources (international donors; EU)? How much is being borrowed and from whom? As regards expenditure the following questions should be addressed: For what and with which aims are expenditures made? (functional classification) What is being “bought” with public expenditure: salaries, goods and services, investments? (economic classification) who is responsible within Public Administration of the expenditure management? (administrative classification) Who are the beneficiaries? Families, companies, other public administrations? Which is the difference between planning and final expenditure? How much time is needed to implement a public investment project? How much does it cost the expenses management? (salaries, purchase of goods or services to make the system work) Which are the tools which allow the public expenditure? Which kind of projects were funded in a specific area? (district, municipality, region) Which are the main sectors and for which reasonAdditional information to be provided could also regard: the different types of accounts or funds, and what agencies are inside or outside the budget; data on the government’s extra-budgetary activities, and their impact on consolidated government accounts a summary and an explanation of the “quasi-fiscal activities” transfers between different levels of government 12
  13. 13. Remember also: to include references and links to more detailed spending information to demonstrate realism of the budgeted levels of revenues, expenditures and the fiscal balance by comparing with recent trends to evaluate expected out-turn for the current year in comparison to its forecast in the previous budget to list key fiscal risks:Citizens’ Budget style and formatThe Citizens’ Budget is deliberately produced for citizens and explains how thegovernment collects, distributes and uses public resources. The best format should be astand-alone technical document, ideally produced by Ministry of Finance, written in simplelanguage with limited use of jargon and of abbreviations.The document should also: highlight simple and attractive charts and diagrams be short but provided with lots of links contain maps on expenditure allocation to sub-national / local governments use simple per-capita indicators for significant revenue and expenditure aggregates, in addition to the total figures , and present main figures as percentage of GDP include a budget / public accounts terminology glossary Box 4: Suggestions for adopting a clear language Particular attention must also be devoted to the language used when explaining the budget to the citizens. In this context the following useful material can be the consulted. 1. “how to write clearly” published by the European Commission: 2. “Style guide” published by the Economist:’ Budget disseminationThe Citizens’ Budget should be actively disseminated. It is suggested to arrange launchesin occasion of public seminars, conferences and in occasion of Public Administration Fairsboth at national and at international level. it should also be encouraged the NGOs 13
  14. 14. participation, to publicize its availability on the web. Copies should be made available inhard copy and electronic form, but also alternative formats can be considered such as: Video clips Radio podcasts Poster PamphletsAdditional educational materials could be prepared to be disseminated in schools, so thatteachers, together with their students use it as an educational subject. Awards could bepublished in schools were teachers and student will be asked to explain the budget to thegeneral Public. The best budget representation could be used as a standard format for thepublication of the Citizens’ Budget. In case of multi-ethnic communities the use of multiplelanguages should be considered, together with its availability in formats and tools whichtake into consideration the disadvantaged groups. Finally, the Citizens’ Budget, oncepublished, should be actively promoted through an adequate media campaign. Box 5: Typical tools for a media campaigning Press release: a news release, press release or press statement is a written or recorded communication directed at members of the news media for the purpose of announcing something claimed as having news value. The publication of the citizens’ budget is a good opportunity to send a press release in order to attract media attention on the issue. Typically, it is mailed, faxed, or e-mailed to assignment editors at newspapers, magazines, radio stations, television stations, and/or television networks. The press release should follow an inverted pyramid style, with information appearing in its order of importance so that editors can easily identify key facts Press conferences: they allow the officials to present the budget and to explain its logic. They are organised to inform the public at large. The press conference is a media event in which newsmakers invite journalists to hear them speak and, most often, ask questions. There are two major reasons for holding a news conference. One is that a newsmaker, who gets many questions from reporters, can answer them all at once rather than answering dozens of phone calls. Another is so someone can try to attract news coverage for something that was not of interest to journalists before. Media training sessions: they can be used to train journalists about the most technical terminology related to the budget presentation. It frequently happens that news on media are wrong because the exact terminology and the details of public expenditure are not understood. Journalists awards: they can be established to build capacity among journalists working on economic issues. The annual awards honour the work and contributions of journalists actively engaged in the responsible dissemination of knowledge related to budget issues, and other areas that support long-term policies in this sector. Journalists’ awards can be complemented by a short training course to provide finalists with an opportunity to discuss and debate citizens’ budget issues and their impacts on the wider public. Journalists can be awarded or for the biggest amount of articles written on the magazines/newspapers, or for the best quality articles published on the media. 14
  15. 15. Examples of Citizens’ Budgets at national and local level Canada’s Citizen Budget: an interactive customizable budget simulator New Zealand Key facts for taxpayers (e.g., 2011) Italy’s “Bilancio in Rete” (Budget on the Internet) France’s Budget and Cyber Budget simulator letat.html Nigerian Budget made simple , Guatemala’s Citizen Budget The city of Cologne’s participatory budget experience Local Budgeting in Oregon 15
  16. 16. 2.4 New challenges for fiscal transparency: open government dataThe Internet is one of the most striking features affecting today’s societal organization.Among many other aspects, it allows a quicker and cheaper way to distribute informationand data. Today, most people would agree that the new standard of public transparency ismeasured by the amount, significance and re-usability of data released on the web.Data on revenues and expenditures should be easily accessible, digital, re-useable from a technical and legal point of view, machine readable, ……. ===open dataThe idea is that with “open data” the public can sort, search, and transform theinformation to meet their needs and answer detailed questions, such as: • how much of my tax money is spent on cancer research? • how much public money is spent for schools in my region? • how much revenue is raised by taxing fuel?Open Government Data is raw information collected or produced by public administrationsthat is shared with the public digitally, over the Internet, in a way that promotes analysisand reuse. The notion of open government data has been around for some years. Since2009, governments are making important pronouncements on the principles fortransparency in government and on the value of making public data widely accessible forpractical applications in and out of civic life and are launching “open data portals”. A dataportal as a single point of access to documents available for re-use – that is downloading,searching, analyzing and re-elaborating - such as in the UnitedKindgom, in France, in Italy, inFinland and many others. While e-Government explores how governments can bestexploit ICT to embed good governance principles and achieve public policy goals, opendata concentrates on the availability and accessibility of data, and on idea that thirdparties may provide services with such data as well. 16
  17. 17. Box 6: The definition of “openness”Supposedly, open data should be released in a machine-processable format and with no patentlicensing restrictions, so that the public can sort, search, and transform the information to meettheir needs. Different definitions emphasize different features of “openness”. A comprehensiveoverview is provided by which lists the following features:1. AccessAvailable as a whole and at a reasonable reproduction cost, preferably downloading via theInternet without charge. The work must be available in a convenient and modifiable form.2. RedistributionThe license shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away the work either on its own oras part of a package made from derived work. License without royalty or other fee.3. ReuseThe license must allow for modifications and must allow them to be distributed under the termsof the original work.4. Absence of Technological RestrictionThe work must be provided in such a form that there are no technological obstacles to theperformance of the above activities (eg. open data format)5. AttributionThe license may require the attribution of the contributors and creators to the work.6. IntegrityThe license may require as a condition for the work being distributed in modified form that theresulting work carry a different name or version number from the original work.7. No Discrimination Against Persons or GroupsThe license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons.8. No Discrimination Against Fields of EndeavorThe license must not restrict anyone from use the work in a specific field of endeavor. Forexample, it may not restrict the work from being used in a business, or for genetic research9. Distribution of LicenseThe rights attached to the work must apply to all to whom the program is redistributed withoutthe need for execution of an additional license by those parties.10. License Must Not Be Specific to a PackageThe rights attached to the work must not depend on the work being part of a particularpackage. If the work is extracted from that package, all parties redistributed should have thesame rights as the original package.11. License Must Not Restrict the Distribution of other WorksThe license must not place restrictions on other works that are distributed along with thelicensed work. For example, the license must not insist that all other works distributed on thesame medium are open.Open data does not mean data identifying or that provides ways to identifyindividuals, unless that information is already published. 17
  18. 18. Public expenditure data are a prime element of open data initiatives and the open dataconcept can, in turn, offer a very interesting platform to disseminate information of publicrevenues and expenditures, and on all other aspects of public finance. The main aspect isthe possibility to provide a detailed account by publishing raw data in addition toaggregates.In fact many recent EU initiatives, such as the “European Transparency Initiative (ETI)”launched by the European Commission in 2005, aim at raising awareness of the usemade of EU money to explain better what Europe does and why it matters.Aconsultation, opened on 3 May and closed on 31 August 2006, was promoted by theEuropean Commission was based on a series of questions related to EU funds beneficiaries( The main result ofthis process was the adoption of the revised Financial Regulation (December 13, 2006) inwhich the EU committed itself to full transparency about who receives monies fromthe EU budget. Examples of the publication of data on Beneficiaries of EU Funds The disclosure of data about the recipients of various EU funds managed by the European Commission in partnership with Member States, notably the Structural Funds and Common Agricultural Policy, for which specific transparency requirements hold. The web pages provide a catalogue of where to find the information for all Member countries. The information is very detailed, but is not necessarily published as open data. Web page on Beneficiaries of Grants Web page on Beneficiaries of Public Contracts Web page on Beneficiaries of Common Agricultural Policy payments a normative point of view, much of the debate on open data today in the EUrevolves around the ongoing revision process of Directive 2003/98 for the re-use PublicSector Information (seeBox 7). 18
  19. 19. Box 7: EU Directive 2003/98 for the re-use Public Sector InformationThe main objective of the Directive is to establish “a minimum set of rules governing the re-use and the practical means of facilitating re-use of existing documents held by public sectorbodies of the Member States”: • -re-use of documents for commercial or non-commercial purposes where the re-use of documents held by public sector bodies is allowed • -requirements for documents to be made available through electronic means • -transparency on conditions and charge is granted (and must be non-discriminatory for similar categories of re-use) • -prohibition of exclusive arrangements to grant exclusive rights on documents.The directive covers written texts but also e.g. databases, maps, audio files and films.A revision of the Directive is in course and expected by end of 2012. Issues underdiscussion: • General rule that all documents held by public sector bodies will be re- usable for both commercial and non-commercial purposes, unless covered by the exceptions provided for in the Directive • including new bodies in the scope of application of the Directive such as libraries (including university libraries), museums and archives; • limiting the fees that can be charged by the public authorities at the marginal costs as a rule; • introducing independent oversight over re-use rules in the Member States; • making machine-readable formats for information held by public authorities the norm.As part of the Digital Agenda for Europe1, in addition to adapting the legal framework for datare-usethe EC Commission is also: • Mobilizing financial resources in favor of open data and support the development of European data portals • Facilitate coordination and experience sharing between European countries, in particular through: • the PSI group, a Member States’ expert group exchanging good practices • the PSI platform a web portal which provides news on good practices, new products and services, and legal cases concerning PSI re-use, • the LAPSI network, the European network for policy discussions and strategic action on legal issues related to the access and the re-use of PSI • the ISA (Interoperability Solutions for European Public Administrations) for semantic interoperability to address the need of efficient public services in EU by facilitating electronic collaboration between public administrations. 19
  20. 20. Some benefits of open data inside and outside the public administrationBroadly speaking, there are numerous benefits of open data the public administration aswell as for users. Experience up to now suggests the following:Accountability: the expectation is that modern, democratic government sharesinformation with the society it governs to demonstrate freedom from corruption andappropriate use of public funds.Efficiency improvements within the administration: public reporting of costs andcomparative outcomes can be a driver of efficiency. Internal collection and monitoring ofmanagement information is critical for driving efficiency improvements, and for makinginformed strategic decisions.Service performance: at present, where data is not open outside government, it mayoften not be available inside government as well. Public sector bodies are not easily ableto benchmark their costs and the quality of their services against their peers and mayhave falsely high – or low – understanding of their performance. In some cases, peer-based competition is sharpened by public scrutiny.Data Quality: knowing that the data are released to the public improves their quality,and because the data owners pay more attention to the processes of data managementand end users can find any errors.Data exchange: Open Data released by Public Bodies can be directly used by otherPublic Administrations, replacing costly dedicated processes; Linked Open Data can beused to share content definition, following the Semantic Web metaphor.Innovation in public services: Open Data presents opportunities for public servicetransformation by giving users more power to self-serve.New markets: A new market for public service information can develop if data is freelyavailable in a standardized format for use and re-use, particularly in the life sciences;population data mining and risk profiling; consumer technologies; and media sectors.“Open” public finance dataIl must be kept in mind that the release of “raw” data is very significant in itself and itprovides an opportunity for many interested parties to understand public finances andanswer specific and significant questions on revenue and expenditures. However, it doesnot by itself make the governments finances necessarily more “scrutable” andunderstandable.Indeed, raw accounting data usually contains “messy” information, many alphanumericaland often requires detailed knowledge of variable definitions and encoding schemes.Moreover, data files are often too large to load into widely available analysis tools (such asMicrosoft Excel, which is a common tool-of-choice for many “simple” data investigators).This means that “open data” on public finance cannot substitute aggregate views and(more or less flexible) summary tables presenting the main features. 20
  21. 21. The following are examples of some already existing good practices on the disclosure ofdetailed data on public accounts or specific areas of public spending at Government level. Examples of Government initiatives: US Recovery Act allows tracking single recipients and projects of the Recovery Funds. UK COINS - the Combined On-line Information System used by the UK Treasury to collect financial data from across the public sector to support fiscal management, the production of Parliamentary supply estimates and public expenditure statistics. Up to eleven years of data can be actively maintained in the system - five historic (or outturn) years, the current year and up to five future (or plan) years.,, UK Public spending & reporting transparency monthly-updated list of all financial transactions spending over £25,000 from single Departments Italy’s end-of-year financial statement at budget item level (year by year) Example: (Budget Law and Mid-Year variations available in the same format at budget item level from ) 21
  22. 22. EXAMPLE: THE US RECOVERY.GOVTo achieve its transparency goal, the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” of 2009 requires recipients of “recovery” funds to report everyJanuary, April, July, and October on how they are using the money.All the data is made available on the website so the public can track the Recovery funds. The Recovery Act provides $787 billion,increased to $840 billion in 2012, for tax cuts and benefits for millions of working families and businesses; entitlement programs (such asunemployment benefits); federal contracts, grants and loans. The vast majority of the recipients fall into one of four categories: State/localgovernments, Universities and other research institutions, Non-profit organizations, Private companies.The website provides several examples on how to make the information easily accessible and interesting for the public. In particular, therecipient of funds can be tracked on a Map and information can be searched in many ways: • projects can be found at specific locations (through the names of a State, congressional district, or postal code) or by topic (e.g., "university," "energy," "transportation"). • recipients name or by topic • projects can be found by status: not yet started, in progress, or completedScreenshots from the website are shown in the following pages. See: 22
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  26. 26. The following are examples of some already existing good practices of gathering and re-using data on public expenditure at civil society level. Examples of Civil society initiatives: UK Where does my money go UK Guardian Department expenditure over 25 thousand pounds EU Farm Subsidies. Its aim is to obtain detailed data on who gets what from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP EU Fish Subsidies Subsidies paid to owners of fishing vessels and others working in the fishing industry under the European Union’s Common Fisheries Policy UK Local Council Spending Italy Chamber of Deputies expenditures LinkedOpenCamera 26
  28. 28. 3. Technological solutionsThe efforts to produce a more friendly approach to data dissemination and to increasecitizens participation is helped by technical solutions that are described in this chapter.Initially, in the box below a short description of current IT system situation in GDPA, andconsequently it introduces a data dissemination system proposal with several paragraphon technical tools today available on the market. Box 8: The current system in the Turkish Ministry of Finance Technologies in GDPA Department can be considered a point of strength in Ministry of Finance’s organization. Say 2000i is the result of GDPA’s competence in the domain of accounting ready to develop software applications at service of various functionalities of GDPA offices. Say 2000i is the name of a centralized system based on Oracle technology platform and web base applications that connects 4839 accounting units at the Local government level required according to Law n. 5018 to provide data on their revenue and expenses. The users distributed on Turkish territory are able to connect to the system, using a dedicated portal on off site for uploading the financial figures monthly. That users own a password to get access to KBS, a dedicated system inclusive in Say 2000i, dedicated to the accounting and financial review operations. Some of LGs process data on own local accounting system are monthly. In this context, data dissemination procedures have the main data sources in Say2000i data stores, which represents the main data provider. Data collection from territory (Local Government’s accounting notes) and applications management are centralized in a data centre where the software applications running on Say 2000i base platform are managed by 12 application servers with Linux operative system and separate storage area for internal and external reporting purposes, based on Oracle. Table 1: Data collection for Central and Local Government CG LG System used Say 2000i KBS Portal1 Accounting Data are inserted Accounting Data, inserted in a xls directly in Say2000i System which file, are uploaded after automatic Data input performs automatically all control processes activated controls 28
  29. 29. 3.1 System architecture for data dissemination at GDPACurrently, internal end users can ask for specific queries to be developed, but at presentthey cannot directly retrieve data. There are no tools to make direct queries, except forthe Oracle tools used by IT staff. Therefore the creation of a proper datawarehouse,separated from the operational database, with query functions available toboth internal and external end users would be the best ITC solution.The data dissemination proceedings need to improve the current IT System through itsown greater specialization by implementing a distinct date base upload by Say2000i datastore where is possible to adopt statistical procedures as data cleaning, filtering, missingvalue, and transformation in time series format. The adoption of a system ad-hoc realize aeasier optimization of methodological process for statistical data publication tools. Fig. 1. Data upload from centralized storage The technological solutions proposed would be through the following: make independent OLTP System and OLAP System, with obvious advantages as speed up computing time, segregation of hardware and software resources, distinction of transaction and computing, etc.; have dedicated hardware and software resources for Statistical Control task; 29
  30. 30. Among the major findings found out with the staff members of IT department, is the rapiddevelopment towards an OLAP, online analytical processing structure and the upgrade ofhardware technologies to Oracle database machine.The proposal guidelines for creating a Dissemination System are based on dedicatedplatform with a operational data base alimented by the accounting system storage, astaging area where data are computed and refined by statistical tools transformingfinancial figures (data registration status) to Statistical data ready for publishing(validation status). Currently, external end users may only access the financial statisticalreports while the following proposal includes a proper data warehouse, separated from theoperational database, with query functions available to both internal and external endusers.The objective is to provide a external utilization of statistical data to citizens by creating adedicated web site where it is possible to log on with direct access to the data warehouseperforming queries and data extraction. Fig. 2. – Data dissemination SystemA dedicated IT platform with an operational database for computing statistical controls,and eventually to run software applications or statistical tools, will be achieved throughthe following major design steps: 1. Creation of ad-hoc operational DB, designed in line with the functional requirements indicated by accounting system specifications and function points; 2. Migration of financial data available from accounting system; 30
  31. 31. 3. Determination of computing staging area (from accounting data registration to statistical validation) 4. Integration of financial data, with other information assuring an interoperability of data sources; 5. Migration from Operation DB to data warehousing for Web data publication; 6. Determination of row data level of data accessibility for users profile; 7. Logging of users access for control purposes;The proposal system architecture can be represented in the following information modelwhere the operational data will be migrated in a dedicated system for data disseminationwhere data are normalized, cleansed and integrated on a operational db passing throughseveral staging areas of “statistical data production”. In the final stage, the statistical datawill me migrated in a DW where data are accessible to external end users (citizen andprofessional users) via web portal. On other side, internal end users need to provide thealready scheduled publications and in addition a data aggregation by accounting rules,dividing data production in classes for scope of data quality control and verification ofconsolidated budget. Fig. 3 - Logical architecture and information model 31
  32. 32. The data dissemination system as designed in the information model above represents aIT solution characterized by some points of strength: • drive down the cost of developing new specific queries, on demand, reducing budgetary expense; • to raise the level of application services; • to enhance the overall control on data dissemination activities; • speed of data access; • improve accuracy of data; • data integration.About IT Audit and services maintenance procedures, it is necessary to highlight that ITCdepartment at GDPA has approached the formalization of procedures in line with ControlObjective Standards (COBIT), a standard de facto in IT audit. Consequently, futureapplications running in the area of data dissemination and publications, need to follow theprocedures established by this standard in order to define a new group of functions for thespecific area “Statistical reporting of financial figures”.The creation of specialized web portal dedicated to data diffusion should include tools forimproving citizens’ understanding of statistical information including data visualizationtools and Geographical Information Systems (GIS).3.2 Geographical Information System (GIS)Data representation on geographical maps is considered the best solution for betterexplaining to people the activities made from Central and Local Government in theterritory.Geographic information system is a system designed to capture, store, manipulate,analyze, manage, and present all types of geographical data. The acronym GIS issometimes used for geographical information science and represents the merging ofcartography, statistical analysis, and database technology.A GIS can be thought of as a system—it digitally creates and "manipulates" spatial areasthat may be jurisdictional, purpose, or application-oriented. A GIS developed for anapplication, jurisdiction, or purpose may not be necessarily interoperable or compatiblewith other systems and it is based on a spatial data infrastructure (SDI), a concept thathas no such restrictive boundaries.In a general sense, the term describes any information system that integrates, stores,edits, analyzes, shares, and displays geographic information for informing the users. Itneeds of data repository central to computerized maintenance management system(CMMS) as a part of dissemination system asset and analytical software systems. GISapplications are tools that allow users to create interactive queries (user-createdsearches), analyze spatial information, edit data in maps, and present the results of allthese operations. 32
  33. 33. Nevertheless the financial figures and budget execution data belonging to GDPA’s datastore need of classification for typology of expenditure (infrastructure, education, healthy,cohesion, agriculture, etc) and these groups of financial expenditure may be applied withstatistical information from territory as density of population, medium age of population,university and education centers, medium salary,…., and main territory resourcesimproving the users understanding to economical life of Turkish Republic.GIS technologies assure a prompt data visualization of financial data to users in the ownterritory providing an interactive tool to compare Public Government activities closer to thepopulation interest.This power tool of data visualization fits perfectly for population curiosity while is lessuseful for budget execution inherent some class of expenditure not linked to the territory.3.3 Statistical tools for data managementMany software tools can be used for managing the data from a statistical point of view.Here we suggest just few examples of tools widely used. These tools could be introducedto support operation in different steps of the process: from data cleaning, to “big data”management, to complex statistical elaborations.Today many of these tools are open source. Here are some examples.Google Refine (see: is a power tool forworking with messy data, cleaning it up, transforming it from one format into another,extending it with web services.Google Refine is a standalone desktop application for data cleanup and transformation toother formats. Its interface is similar to spreadsheet applications (and can work withspreadsheet file formats), however acts more like database.It operates on rows of data which have cells under columns, which is very similar torelational database tables. One Refine project is one table. User can filter rows to displaydefining filtering criteria (for example, showing rows where given column is not empty).Unlike spreadsheets, most operations in Refine are done on all visible rows:transformation of all cells in all rows under one column, creation of new column based onexisting column data, etc. All actions that were done on dataset are stored in project andcan be replayed on another dataset.Unlike spreadsheets, no formulas are stored in cells, but formulas are used to transformdata, and transformation is done only once.Program has web user interface, however it is not hosted by software developer, butavailable for download and use on local machine. When starting Refine, it starts webserver and starts browser to open web UI powered by this webserver.Another tool from Google is Google BigQuery , aweb service that lets you do interactive analysis of massive datasets—up to billions ofrows. Scalable and easy to use, BigQuery lets developers and businesses tap into powerfuldata analytics on demand. 33
  34. 34. Google BigQuery Service allows you to run SQL-like queries against very large datasets,with potentially billions of rows. This can be your own data, or data that someone else hasshared for you. BigQuery works best for interactive analysis of very large datasets,typically using a small number of very large, append-only tables.While Google Refine is a free product you can download, Google BigQuery is a servicewith a pay-per-use policy based on query processing and storage used.The need for complex statistical operations on data requires the use of a statistical tool.“R” ( has been receiving a lot of attention recently, although it’sbeen around for over 15 years. R is an open-source language for statistical computing anddata visualization, supporting data manipulation and transformations, as well assophisticated graphical displays. Corporate data analysts and statisticians often know Rand use it in their daily work, either writing their own R functionality, or leveraging themore than 3400 open source packages. The Comprehensive R Archive Network (CRAN supports a wide range of statistical and data analysiscapabilities.R is a statistics language similar to SAS or SPSS. It’s a powerful, extensible environment,and as noted above, it has a wide range of statistics and data visualization capabilities. It’seasy to install and use, and it’s free. To expand R features, recently Oracle corporationreleased “Oracle R Enterprise” ( thatlifts memory and computational constraint found in R today by executing requested Rcalculations on data in the database. Oracle R Enterprise allows users to further leverageOracles engineered systems, like Exadata, already used in Turkish MoF, for enterprise-wide analytics.3.4 Data WarehouseData Warehouse technology is one of the techniques usually included in “BusinessIntelligence” techniques. It provides to users data coming from a cleaned, transformedData Base designed for data analysis. Using Data Warehouses (DW) users can select data,combine them and generate “new” outputs” like tabulations and graphs. DW software isessential to enable users to analyze data in custom mode, then download the final resultsin the desired format.Many examples of DW are available, some DW tools are developed as an extension oftraditional DBMSs, others are products specifically designed for Business Intelligence. Bothproprietary and open-source products software are available. DW could improve the abilityfor Turkish users to analyze data and create new relationships.Here a short list of Business Intelligence opensource tools: Pentaho(, Jasper ( and Palo( Some of them are supported by Turkish companies such as GNA( our suggestion to introduce Data Warehouse tool: – start analyzing Data Warehouse tools market – compare tools characteristics with GDPA requirements 34
  35. 35. – test the best two tools, possibly one proprietary and one open-source – choose the tool that best meets the requirements of Ministry and external users – start releasing a selection of data on a simple DW in which users can process, manipulate, download data.3.5 Data VisualizationMore and more statistical organizations are using new methods to present statistical data,starting from Maps and Advanced Graphic Method (Hans Rosling is considered the fatherof New Visualization age - and including charts, Mindmaps,and display of news, data, connections, websites, articles and resources.One of the often used tools are “dashboard” a data visualization tool that displays thecurrent status of metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) for an enterprise.Dashboards consolidate and arrange numbers, metrics and sometimes performancescorecards on a single screen. Dashboards can often be obtained using Data Warehousetools quoted in previous paragraph.A simple way to start presenting data using advanced visualization techniques is GooglePublic Data Explorer ( , a tool by which everyorganization can show his data on the Web so that users can find, explore, and share it.We suggest two steps for using GPDE: 1. first Ministry of Finance can start testing the tool uploading datasets for visualization and exploration by privileged users; 2. in a second phase MoF can agree with Google for a formal insertion of his data in the Dataset Directory organizations have chosen this way of publishing (often as additional way to theirwebsite), between them WorldBank, IMF, OECD, Eurostat etc.VIDI is another suite that can be used to display data in new ways. VIDI is a set of Drupal(an open CMS) modules designed to enable the creation of visual data displays. UsingVIDI tools you can display changes in data values over time, relate data in various ways togeographical maps, or display static datasets through different types of charts.Two ways to use it: 1. use VIDI on the website loading your data, choosing between available visualizations and storing there your visualization; 2. download VIDI modules and install them in your Drupal website, then import your datasets and prepare data displays.Another website offering advanced methods of visualization for statistical data is IBMManyEyes (; the service isoffered by IBM and the site is really easy to use: 35
  36. 36. • Upload a data set • Choose a visualization type: besides the usual bubble charts, scatter plots, bar charts, you find also word-clouds (tag-clouds), treemaps, network diagrams • Discover • Share with othersAny kind of data set you upload is visible for the community: a nice way to sharediscoveries, find cool stuff and start meaningful discussions.Talking about new visualizations, we must quote the “Infographics”, graphic visualrepresentations of information, data or knowledge. Good examples of Infographics can befound at and .Other websites dedicated to visualization tools and methods:, Many visualization techniques are alsoavailable in modules of tools presented above in 3.2 and 3.3 paragraphs. 36
  37. 37. Examples of Advanced Visualizations mentioned in the textFirst of all an example of Dashboard, in which many different graphics are collected to give theuser an overview, a glance of the situation.Then we introduce a page from the World Bank website, one of the best-practice for datapresentation: in this page you can see a sort of Statistical Dashboard 37
  38. 38. examples 9 (continued)Here a chart obtained from Google Public Data Explorer, a free service in which many nationaland international organizations store their data so that users can process them also in graphicalwaysFinally an example from Gapminder, a graph with moving bubble-chart to show the trends overthe past two centuries of economic and health indicators 38
  39. 39. 3.6 Open Data toolsOpen data are data freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, withoutrestrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control. Open data are oftenavailable in open formats as “raw data”, meaning that researcher and stakeholders canmake their own processing and analysis on them. More and more Open Data are nowreleased as Linked Open Data ( first software platform available to manage Open Data is CKAN (ComprehensiveKnowledge Archive Network - Developed by OKFN (Open KnowledgeFoundation Network), a community promoting open knowledge and access because theseprinciples have the potential to deliver far-reaching societal benefits. ‘Open knowledge’according to OKFN is any content, information or data that people are free to use, re-useand redistribute — without any legal, technological or social restriction.Its an open source package that make data accessible – by providing tools to streamlinepublishing, sharing, finding and using data. CKAN is aimed at data publishers (nationaland regional governments, companies and organizations) wanting to make their data openand availableUsed by many central (dk, no, uk) and local governments, its main features are: • Publish & Find Datasets (import, keywords, versioning) • Store & Manage Data (Raw data, metadata, statistics, geo-) • Engage with users & Others (Community Mgmt) • Customize & Extend (APIs, extensions, opensource)The World Bank website is an high-level web site that implements many of listedsuggestions and could be used as “best practices” example: their website you can find data by country or by topic or bymore than 1.000 indicators . All indicators available in table, map, graph and down-loadable in xls and xml format. On the World Bank website there are also modules todirectly access WB data from Stata and “R” statistical tools. 39
  40. 40. Box 9: DRUPAL The increasing size of data managed by websites and mew ways of data dissemination can be well managed only using a Content Management System (CMS). CMSs support the creation, management, distribution, publishing, and discovery of corporate information, covering the complete life-cycle of the site pages, providing simple tools to create the contents, to publish and finally to archive them. The main advantages of using CMS is the separation between content management and technical management of the site and the availability of numerous tools to improve the presentation of the site and simplify the management. Many CMS are available for free and open source; between them Drupal(1) gives many functions that simplify the data management and visualization (modules Data, Data Cube and Linked Data and others1) and therefore its used in big projects of data dissemination like DataGov, and World Bank (1). A list of Turkish government (central and local) websites managed by Drupal can be found at . Drupal with version 7 introduces the use of RDFa. RDFa (or Resource Description Framework – in – attributes) is a W3C Recommendation1 that adds a set of extensions to XHTML for embedding rich metadata within Web documents, by enriching the existing human-readable data with RDF attributes. RDFa then enables us to bridge the gap between what humans see when viewing a document and what machines "see" when they process the same document. RDFa data can be queried using SPARQL language, another W3C standard. The presence of these standard technologies used in Semantic Web is another reason why Drupal is widely used for OpenData websites. Starting from 2011 there is an effort shared between United States and India: “ Box”, an open source version of the United States’ data portal (based on Drupal) and India’s document portal. The U.S. and India are working together to produce an open source version available for implementation by countries globally, encouraging governments around the world to stand up open data sites that promote transparency, improve citizen engagement, and engage application developers in continuously improving these efforts. The new project is called Open Government Platform1 (OGPL). The first module released is the Data Management System, which provides the tools and capabilities for publishing data in the Open Government Platform, an open source product designed to facilitate governments around the world to stand up their own open government data sites.3.7 Interoperability to dataThe formalization of data format is a crucial point to assure data exchange andinteroperability between Institutions and Ministries also in view of e-government projectswhich require a more general approach to data analysis and decision making support.Best practices in Europe are represented by SDMX format, which assures data exchangeamong others between European Central Bank and National Central Banks and IMF. 40
  41. 41. The advantage of having standard data formats that share a common Information model(SDMX) is that all of these types of exchange can take place side-by-side, and theapplications may process metadata assuring interoperability.The interoperability to data is assured in the following operative steps: a. Business alignment in SDMX framework i. From tables to SDMX format ready to be transmitted via gateway b. System architecture i. Technology independent specification of an SDMX information model c. Data modelling i. Automated mapping of information modelA. Business alignment in SDMX framework. An example of transformation from a table ofmonetary and banking statistics to metadata SDMX format (to perform data exchange toIMF) is the following: 41
  42. 42. B. System architecture. An example of architecture for data exchange between twoentities is the following: C. Data modellingThe content of a generic interchange message for statistical metadata could berepresented in the following items: • Interchange administration segments • Message administration segments • Code lists • Statistical concepts • Key families • Data set administration segments 42
  43. 43. • Array structure • Data segment(s) • Attributes • End of message administration • End of interchange administrationThe information model representation in UML (Unified Modelling Language) 43
  44. 44. 4. Public understanding and involvement4.1 Public consultationsThe easiest way to prepare for data dissemination to the public – being the specificpurpose the setup of a Citizens’ Budget or the release of detailed / raw data on publicfinance operations - would be in foreseeing a fully public involvement since its planning.That would imply, from the government side, the organization of consultation withcivil society groups and periodical public polls during which citizens are asked toexpress their wishes about what data they are interested in.In this context, civil society organizations play an important role as facilitators of a broadpolicy dialogue. For this reason, it is important to involve these organizations in theconsultation processes. Being the budget an issue, which affects many sectors of thesociety, it should be particularly encouraged a coherent approach to representation of civilsociety organizations at all level.A consultation relationship between the Government and interested parties should beunderpinned by certain fundamental principles. These principles define the environmentwithin which they will both operate. They also constitute the basis for any futuredevelopments in the area of consultation policy. The principles should include thefollowing principles: Participation: to ensure wide participation throughout the policy chain from conception to implementation Openness and accountability: The policy-making process must be visible to the outside world if it must be understood and have credibility. Thus consultation processes have to be transparent, both to those who are directly involved and to the general public. It must be clear: what issues are being developed what mechanisms are being used to consult who is being consulted and why what has influenced decisions in the formulation of policy.It follows that interested parties must themselves operate in an environment that istransparent, so that the public is aware of the parties involved in the consultationprocesses and how they conduct themselves. Openness and accountability are thusimportant principles for the conduct of organizations when they are seeking to contributeto the budget policy development. It must be apparent: which interests they represent how inclusive that representation is.All communications relating to consultation should be clear and concise, and shouldinclude all necessary information to facilitate responses. The information in publicity andconsultation documents should include: 44
  45. 45. A summary of the context, scope and objectives of consultation, including a description of the specific issues open for discussion or questions with particular importance for the Government Details of any hearings, meetings or conferences, where relevant Contact details and deadlines Explanation of the Governments processes for dealing with contributions, what feed-back to expect, and details of the next stages involved in the development of the policy If not enclosed, reference to related documentation The exact time limit for the consultationFinally, the receipt of contributions should be acknowledged. Results of open publicconsultation should be displayed on websites linked to the single access point on theInternet. Depending on the number of comments received and the resources available,acknowledgement can take the form of: an individual response (by e-mail or acknowledgement slip), or a collective response (by e-mail or on the Governments single access point for consultation on the Internet).Results of other forms of consultation should, as far as possible, also be subject to publicscrutiny on the single access point on the Internet. The Government should then provideadequate feedback to responding parties and to the public at large. To this end,explanatory memoranda accompanying the decisions taken following the consultationprocess should include the results of these consultations and an explanation as to howthese were conducted and how the results were taken into account.4.1 Promoting data use and re-use through websites and competitionsAn important step for citizen involvement is to encourage them to make use of the data.This is particularly true when it comes to “open data”. A first step is setting up adedicated website (see Box 10). 45
  46. 46. Box 10: Suggestions for a dedicated websiteThe Website should include two main sections: a public page to be accessed byeveryone, and an Intranet devoted to specific target groups like the media and otherkey stakeholders which can be involved by the administration’s staff.The typical focus of the web site may include A description of the data contents and structure of the data files (“meta- data”) The data files (preferably in a comma-separated, tab-separated values or xml formats) Some key documentation, for further information Link to aggregate or summary tables and figures News and Events related to the budget data presentation A devoted newsletter and automatic emailing list A section devoted to Media relations FAQs and Ask-the-Expert Links Contacts Forums to allow the interaction with the citizensThe Documentation section should contain all the official documentation related to thebudget a kind of specifics related to the budget explanation.The News and Events section should contain information on any major news related tothe budget presentation to the public (conferences, press conferences, workshops).The Media section should be devoted to the interaction with journalists. It could beorganised as an Intranet provided with some public information. The Intranet shouldcontain press releases and information on initiatives exclusively addressed tojournalists. The public section should provide useful links and a glossary of the mostcommonly used terms that could be of interest also to other Target Groups.The Newsletter section should make newsletters available if foreseen as acommunication tool for the data being disseminated and be arranged by publicationdate, starting from the most recent. It can be available on the website and automaticallysend to a emailing list.FAQs and Ask-the-Expert section (FAQs) should provide the most common questionsand related answers. If the user does not find answers to his/her question in the FAQlist, he/she can access the “Ask-the-Expert” section, where to ask questions throughon-line forms. The “Ask-the-Expert” section should be organized as a feedback section,in which general public can pose questions, make comments, and receive answers.The Links section should contain a list of useful links to other relevant websites, both atnational, European and international level.The Contact section should provide the names and respective roles of the staffs incharge..The Website could also be provided with discussion forums in order to collect generalpublic opinions and feelings toward the issue. 46
  47. 47. Another very popular way to promote data use is to set up competitions and prizeswhere citizens and programmers can work together on the data and make it moremeaningful.The typical structure of these competitions is that a number of datasets are released andprogrammers then have a short time-frame - running from a couple of days to to a fewweeks - to develop applications using the data. A prize is then awarded to the bestapplication. Competitions have been held in a number of countries including the UK, theUS, Norway, Australia, Spain, Denmark, Finland and Italy. Examples of open data competitions Apps for Democracy, one of the first competitions in the United States, launched in October 2008 by Vivek Kundra, at the time Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of the District of Columbia Government Abre Datos (Open Data) Challenge, first held in Spain in April 2010, where developers where invited to to create open source applications making use of public data in just 48 hours. Nettskap 2.0 launched In April 2010 by the Norwegian Ministry for Government Administration where Norwegian developers – companies, public agencies or individuals – were challenged to come up with web-based project ideas in the areas of service development, efficient work processes, and increased democratic participation Apps4Itlay, a competition open to all EU citizens, associations, developer communities and firms willing to develop innovative applications based on the re-use of Public Sector Information (Open Data) launched in 2011. 47
  48. 48. These Guidelines were drafted as part of Activity 1.7 of the EU Twining project “ImprovingData Quality in Public Accounts”.Resident Twinning Advisor: Mauro BarbiniComponent responsible: Yusuf AkkoyunThe document was prepared by:Aline Pennisi (Ministry of economy and finance - Italy; e-mail: Florio (Ministry of economy and finance -Italy; e-mail: Salvi (FormezPA - Italy; e-mail: Vaccari (FormezPA / Istat - Italy; email: 48