#DataOnTheStreets International Rally

Improving public investments management through government-civil society coalitions

In achieving openness, transparency is only one side of the equation, and its impact will depend on the use given to relevant information and how to close the feedback loop to create better accountability. Government-civil society coalitions are light touch and scalable participation initiatives that enable collaboration in a semi-formal flexible setting for dialogue among different stakeholders, to achieve specific objectives of improving certain processes and policies that affect sustainable development. The coalitions bring together the GIFT agenda in different levels, as they: rely in the publication of digital tools, including the better collection of data, user-centered publication and open data; encourage the adoption of public participation mechanisms by helping break barriers related to questions about the possible effects of participation, while simultaneously establishing bases for trust and collaboration among stakeholders of different sectors; and are strengthened through peer-collaboration at the international level, as practitioners from the different countries from civil society and government co-create the mechanisms and share their specific focus, methods and lessons learned.

 How it works 

Governments, through their Ministry of Finance, Public Works or similar, and one or more CSOs, launch an open invitation to participate in the Rally #DataOnTheStreets. People register to the event and go through the construction projects dataset or mapping platforms published and select the ones they want to visit. Knowing the location and coordinates they go out to check out the projects, comparing what they see on the dataset and what they see on the streets. Participants document their findings through social media (Facebook or Twitter), posting creatively and engaging their own network. At the end, judges, representatives from government and civil society (coordinated by GIFT), choose the winners based on number of projects visited, creativity, engagement and, of course, extra points for data analysis.

 Previous results and testimonials 

Since 2017, GIFT started to support the #DataOnTheStreets Rally (initiated in Mexico by the MoF in 2016), which enables civil society-government collaboration to close the feedback loop in public investments projects management. The Rally has also been held in Chile and Colombia, with more countries joining.

The Rally helps identify strengths and gaps in the implementation of investment projects, as well as in the related data flows inside of the government. Experience shows that participants tend to be non-data specialists, expanding the audience using open data and engaging civil society in follow the money activities.

In Chile, the rally has engaged a growing community of stakeholder, including construction and private sector associations, the public works ministry and remarkably, the Supreme Audit Institution (SAI). Such new community gathered around the quest of better monitoring of public infrastructure have triggered specific actions in data gathering and monitoring from the Ministry of Public Works and the SAI.

In Mexico, the Rally has the longest history (since 2016). From the findings and lessons learned, the MoF has also renovated the systems for public investments management and the system for reporting subnational governments projects, which improves data quality for monitoring and decision-making. All the reports of inconsistencies and possible mismanagement are directed to the social auditing office and the comptroller. From the experience there is a long-standing coalition with the co-hosting CSO (SocialTic), working on improving transparency and co-developing the “How to Understand the Budget? Massive Open Online Course”.

 

In Colombia, the impact of the Rally (2018 and 2019) and the Dataquest (2019) has reached the National Development Plan, including a provision to incorporate cross-cutting budgets in the budget process that match the categories of projects included in the Rally and the Dataquest, these are: gender, process for peace and inclusion of indigenous groups. Currently, as follow-up, GIFT is providing technical assistance and enabling peer-exchange to develop the cross-cutting budgets.

 What you need to host your own Rally? 

  • Open data of public constructions being built or finished from national or subnational level projects. The data must have: descriptive name of the project, geolocation, budget allocated to the project, financial progress, physical progress.
  • If available, it is best to have the data paired with visualizations, such as maps and photos.
  • A government and a civil society convener. The initiative can be initiated from any side, but it is important to work together.
  • A team in charge of dissemination, answering participant questions, following posts and counting points.
  • Let us know you want to host a Rally!

 

Any question or further information?

Please contact Lorena Rivero at lorena@fiscaltransparency.net and Tarick Gracida at tarick@fiscaltransparency.net

 

Project supported by the OGP Multi-Donor Trust Fund and the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF – Banco de Desarrollo de América).

#BetterBudget Dataquest for Sustainable Development

In achieving openness, transparency is only one side of the equation, and its impact will depend on the use given to relevant information and how to close the feedback loop to create better accountability. Government-civil society coalitions are light touch and scalable participation initiatives that enable collaboration in a semi-formal flexible setting for dialogue among different stakeholders, to achieve specific objectives of improving certain processes and policies that affect sustainable development. The coalitions bring together the GIFT agenda in different levels, as they: rely in the publication of digital tools, including the better collection of data, user-centered publication and open data; encourage the adoption of public participation mechanisms by helping break barriers related to questions about the possible effects of participation, while simultaneously establishing bases for trust and collaboration among stakeholders of different sectors; and are strengthened through peer-collaboration at the international level, as practitioners from the different countries from civil society and government co-create the mechanisms and share their specific focus, methods and lessons learned.

What is it?
It is an open data expedition, in which government and civil society call on the population to explore open public spending data and relate it to additional data and contextual information to present results or findings of the implications of budget allocation and implementation.
The topics were selected based on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), considering the critical role of the public budget for achieving them, and were restricted to three categories selected for their relevance in the current debate:

 

Objectives of the #BetterBudget Dataquest
As the better budget name suggests, it is an opportunity to find new analysis on specific topics and innovative solutions to improve budget allocation and its implementation. In addition, the process is an opportunity for open data publishers to generate budget literacy and data use capacities, as well as an opportunity to observe the challenges that users can face while using the data, to improve its publication.

Target audience
The Dataquest is aimed at a population with intermediate to advanced knowledge in data science, economics or journalism (or similar).

Results of the 2019 edition
The first edition of the #BetterBudget Dataquest was held in 2019, by invitation for the Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency (GIFT) Stewards and partners as part of the International Open Data Day. The events were organized in Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Mexico, Uruguay and South Africa, all with the participation of the government and civil society. Below are some relevant in three countries representing different approaches of the Dataquest:

Argentina

Organized by the Civil Association for Equality and Justice (ACIJ), it had mentoring by the Ministry of Finance of the country and the Latin American Open Data Initiative (ILDA). Participants oriented their analysis, primarily, to budgetary performance based on the physical goals of some budget programs. In this particular case, all teams focused on gender issues.

 

In particular, the work of one of the groups found that the Mother and Child Care program of the Ministry of Health reduced the delivery of fortified milk powder to children between the ages of zero and two in the 2014-2018 period, and that the amount of milk planned for delivery had been sub-executed, affecting thousands of infants (read research article).
Based on this, the Ministry of Finance has changed the form of publication of open budget data and physical goals, and improved dialogue to improve the establishment and monitoring of performance targets.

Costa Rica
Since the budget data was not yet available in open formats, the event focused on presenting how the country could eventually have a #BeterBudget Dataquest and what would be required. From this, Innovap, an independent academic organization, and the Ministry of Finance, signed an agreement to jointly develop a budget literacy initiative, called the Budget School, and begin the publication of open data with GIFT support.
The Open Budget School began on February 4, 2020 and will end with a Dataquest. This will reflect a breakthrough, not only in terms of publishing open data but also in developing government-civil society dialogue.

Indonesia

In this case, the #BetterBudget Dataquest showed the potential of implementing this sort of activity with university students, as a way to improve the involvement and analysis of the budget. It was carried out on campuses of the PKN STAN University, first in Jakarta and then in Tangerang.

 

Following the rules of the event, the conveners invited the students to form teams of a maximum of five people with different profiles. The results and analyzes were among the most creative of the 2019 edition (click on the image to reproduce the video generated by the winning team), evidencing the importance of the voice of young people in improving public policies.

 

 

 

2020 Edition

In the new edition of the #BetterBudget Dataquest, we will seek as a priority to improve the quality of the results and close the feedback loop with the government, to ensure that the results are taken into consideration for the improvement of the public financial management, either in the program design, budget allocations or setting of targets. For this, in addition, we will have the collaboration of UNDP Latin America, who through its national offices will support local government and civil society organizers, as necessary, to improve the impact of the exercise, and as an incentive to Participation will offer winners to present their results to UNDP representatives.

Finally, regarding the logistic aspect, the generic Rules of Operation that can be consulted in this link will be used as a base, and can be adapted according to the variants of the event that will be carried out in each country. It should be noted that, considering the experience of 2019, the event will not be limited to the International Open Data Day, but may be held between the months of March to May to provide flexibility to the organizers, considering the local holidays and contexts.

Organizations wishing to carry out a Dataquest should contact Lorena Rivero del Paso at lorena@fiscaltransparency.net, to record the date of the event and facilitate the necessary collaborations.

 

Project supported by the OGP Multi-Donor Trust Fund.

Relaunch of Austrias Open Spending Portal

Until 2019 Austrian municipalities followed the rules of cameralistic system. The budgeting and also accounting was done according to a cash-flow oriented system. From the beginning of 2020 an accrual system consisting of three perspectives must be implemented. The income statement  (Ergebnishaushalt) shows the resource flows within the municipality. The cash flow statement (Finanzierungshaushalt) shows the cash inflows and outflows. The balance sheet statement (Vermögenshaushalt) includes balances of property, accounts receivable, accounts payable, loans etc. With this shift to a resource oriented concept a holistic assessment of municipal households is possible.

The introduction of the new accrual accounting system in Austria as of 2020 made it necessary to implement a major relaunch of the platform. In fact, Open Spending Austria has been completely rewritten and redesigned.

City of Klosterneuburg at Open Spending Austria

City of Klosterneuburg at Open Spending Austria: https://www.offenerhaushalt.at/gemeinde/klosterneuburg

As data currently is only available in for the planned budget of 2020, only two of the three budget components can be visualized (see figure). The two components already available are the cash flow statement (left) and the income statement (right) For the third component (middle, the balance sheet statement), data from the actual spending 2020 will be needed that will be available as of spring 2021.

Currently, more then 1.100 municipalities in Austria have disclosed their spending data on the platform, which is more then 53 percent. And more are joining every month…

Creating public participation opportunities in Georgia

Tbilisi, Georgia. December 2019.
Europe Foundation and the Ministry of Finance of Georgia.

In the past years, Georgia has had a clear interest and mandate to improve budget transparency in the country. The country has gone from 55 points score (out of 100) in the Open Budget Survey of 2012 to 82 points in 2017. The country now ranks among only five other countries considered to provide “extensive” budget information of the 115 countries assessed. Yet, when it comes to user-centered fiscal transparency and public participation opportunities in the budget cycle, there are still challenges ahead that civil society and government would like to overcome.

In this enabling context, the Europe Foundation, a local civil society organization with previous experience in supporting the participation of groups with disabilities at the local level, reached out to the GIFT network. Their intention was clear and straightforward: to support the development of public participation mechanisms in the country, following the GIFT Principles on Public Participation in Fiscal Policy, as well as the examples gathered by the network in the Guide of Public Participation Mechanisms. As such, during a public event in December 2019, they presented the translation of the Public Participation Principles into Georgian, signaling the start of the work towards establishing a collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and strengthening the required capacities of other civil society organizations.

During the event, GIFT Stewards and partners from the government and civil society of South Africa and Uruguay showcased examples of public participation, budget literacy and digital tools for fiscal transparency, and afterwards we had a chance for peer-exchange with the public officials of the Ministry of Finance involved, as well as with civil society groups.

Along these lines, the Ministry of Finance has launched efforts to introduce public engagement in the budget process, including the presentation (December 24th) of the Budget Transparency and Engagement System, an electronic platform that enables all interested parties to get acquainted with state budget information, key country priorities, state budget programs, and plan their own budget. Through this system, the inputs provided by the users will go directly to the public officials of the budget department.

We will keep you posted about the continued collaboration to design and implement public participation mechanisms in Georgia, seeking to improve budget allocations and policy design for a sustainable development that leaves no one behind!