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An investigation based on budgetary data evidences significant reductions in food policies for children in Argentina

by ACIJ (Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia)

In February 2019, ACIJ Argentina, together with the Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency, organized a Dataquest for the international day of open data. There, a group of organizations and activists met in order to analyze the data of the Argentine budget and make visible its impact on equality.

The work was carried out in teams and 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 girls and boys between zero and two years old in the 2014-2018 period, and the kilos of milk planned to be delivered had been sub-executed, affecting thousands of children.

This is a program that aims to ensure that all children in the country can achieve a state of integral health and its impact is greater on children in poverty. Based on this finding, the journalist who, together with her group, discovered this information in the Dataquest, initiated an investigation with other journalists, to find out the reasons for the reduction.

It was necessary to make multiple requests for access to public information and interviews to know the reasons: delays in tenders, lack of coordination with the provinces, management problems with supplier companies, among others. The investigation also showed that some provinces were more affected than others due to deviations. For example, the province of Chaco, one of the most impoverished in 2018, with 41% of its population below the poverty line, received 30% less than the expected milk.

The results of the investigation can be consulted in the regional research “The Promised Milk”, led by the newly formed network of Latin American Journalists for Transparency and Anti-Corruption (PALTA Network).

63.4% of girls, boys, and teens in Argentina see at least one of their rights infringed. This means that they are poorly fed, sleep in houses without drinking water or sewers, do not access education on equal terms, and/or suffer from poor or poor levels of health care. In this context, it becomes essential that the State prioritizes the effectiveness of social spending in policies aimed at guaranteeing the right to health and food for girls and boys, being inadmissible sub-executions of available resources.

This investigation demonstrates the importance of having clear, disaggregated and accessible information to monitor the performance of public policies aimed at guaranteeing rights, and that the State better justifies and explains the reasons for budgetary deviations.

This situation is replicated in other countries of the region such as Uruguay, El Salvador, Peru, Colombia, Mexico, and Guatemala.

Is it possible to follow the budget money in Slovenia with open data?

Follow Jorg K. Petrovic on Twitter

Slovenia is making a good progress in opening its data. The only area that is left behind is the data about the budget. But recently things are starting to develop rapidly also at the Ministry of Finance. Two years ago, the citizens budget was introduced. And in early 2019, activities started to open as much data as possible in a timely and user attractive and friendly manner. Decisively, coordination between the MoF, the Ministry of Public Administration (in charge of the IT cloud), Governmental PR services and the Court of Audit, has begun. As these institutions started to work on the project, promising outcomes are on the horizon.

1. Slovenia, as a member of the European Union, is obliged to develop a strategy on open data (EU regulation is behind that).

2. Slovenia reports to the EU and public institutions are evaluated about open data. Last report shown improvements, making Slovenia move from the 2nd group »Fast trackers« to the top #1 group of »Trendsetters« (as shown on the graphic, Slovenia holds the 7th position within the whole list).

3. We have many portals where info about open data (and also the very data sets themselves) is to be found:

– OPSi (Odprti Podatki Slovenije – Open Data Slovenia)

Manual on how to open the data.

Register of the entities that are bound by the Public Information Act, not just when being asked but also to be proactively transparent.

Publication of public sector transactions by the Public Payments Administration of the Republic of Slovenia.

– The Commission for the Prevention of Corruption’s public sector financial transactions records ERRAR, formerly known as Supervizor.

Publication of contracts.

Publication of metadata on public procurement for reuse.

Data on election campaigns.

Annual reports of political parties (within JOLP – Javna Objava Letnih Poročil – Public Publication of Yearly Reports).

– All papers of governmental sections
(http://www.vlada.si/delo_vlade/gradiva_v_obravnavi/ ; http://www.vlada.si/delo_vlade/dnevni_redi/ ; http://www.vlada.si/delo_vlade/seje_delovnih_teles/ )

Transparency and open data – info by MPA.

Looks like a significant amount of information, but only experts could make a complete assessment and I am not one of them in this field of open data. But I do know about budgets and I can say that other countries have more on budgets. Maybe after all the MPA website might not be at the top address for fiscal data? Sure some useful links are to be found there (ERRAR and OPEN DATA SLOVENIA) but in my opinion they lack direct link to the budget data! Through the presentations and discussions I have witnessed and been part of at GIFT meetings, I know there is a great room for improvement. I believe that, because I know that the evaluation I was presented (before mentioned EU – Open data maturity …) is only one of many. Just last week, OECD has published a new Open Government Data Report and in that case, Slovenia is below average – way behind South Korea, France, Japan, Great Britain and Mexico.

But I do not want to leave you without fiscal information. Let me just briefly take you to the webpage of the MoF. There, among other things, one can also find the following information:

Citizens budget.     All budgets in detail.     Where does your money go?

Midyear reports.

End-year reports.

The Tax office gives once a month information on collected taxes.

So, there is valuable information. But that is basically it. Some data can be found at the Statistical office (SURS). But statistics is, as it should be, aggregated information that does not allow to trace budgets…  (https://www.stat.si/StatWeb/Field/Index/1).

As you can see, Slovenia has data available, but we are still not even halfway compared to where some countries already are.

I think that »Where does your money go« could be a good point to start. But it should be the base to build up a system to provide online, up to date, budget data – both on income (tax office) and expenditure data (MoF – directorate of budget and directorate of public accounting). Transactions should get direct links to the documentation (data provider through ERRAR and Public Information Act), which could be achieved by using GIFT´s Open Fiscal Data Package, for instance. All data about transactions that result in assets should be presented with the data of those assets (parcel ledger data, geo location, etc.) We already have all the data – since otherwise linear ministries would not be able to function. I also believe that we have all the necessary legislation (Public Information Act, etc.). We only need a person at MoF (like Lorena Rivero del Paso in Mexico) to organize all the pieces of the puzzle in the proper way – and of course political support for that. Another option would be to work closely with the GIFT network, as it provides technical support for these type of challenges.

Mexico became the first country to formally adopt the Open Fiscal Data Package!

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Mexico became the first country to formally adopt the Open Fiscal Data Package, an international open data standard promoted by GIFTGlobal Initiative for Fiscal Transparency, in collaboration with Open Knowledge International and the World Bank, with the support of Omidyar Network.

 

The announcement was made during an event hosted by the Ministry of Finance of Mexico to present the Executive’s Budget Proposal for 2017. The Ministry also revealed that it published the 2008-2016 Federal Budget on its website. The data was prepared using the OpenSpending Viewer, a tool which allows the users to upload and analyze data, and create visualizations.

 

For the past few months, OpenSpending, in collaboration with the GIFT and WB-BOOST initiative  team, has been working with the Ministry of Finance of Mexico to pilot the OpenSpending tools and the Open Fiscal Data Package (OFDP). The OFDP powers the new version of the OpenSpending tools used to publish Mexico’s Federal Budget data. The OFDP helps make data releases more comparable and useful.

 

The data package, embedded on Ministry of Finance’s web page, enables users to analyse the 2008-2016 budget, to create visualizations on all or selected spending sectors and share their personalized visualizations. All data is available for download in open format, while the API allows users to create their own apps based on this data.

Explore the visualization!


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In the next few months, GIFT in collaboration with Open Knowledge International team will pilot the OFDP specification in a number of other countries. The specification and the OpenSpending tools are free and available to use to any interested stakeholder. To find out more, on how to engage with GIFT, the Lead Stewards and/or the GIFT streams of work, please contact GIFT’s Network Director, Juan Pablo Guerrero (guerrero@fiscaltransparency.net) or write to info@fiscaltransparency.net

 

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