OpenBudgets: more transparency for public spending
Citizens are more and more concerned about transparency in public institutions: they want to be sure that their taxes
are being spent appropriately and that corruption is not taking place. The EU-supported OpenBudgets.eu project created
a platform that can be used by ordinary people, civil society organisations, media, NGOs and companies to access
budget and transaction data in public sector and have an overview of public spending.
It also allows them to compare budgets between administrative regions and different government levels and to provide feedback on what they find, by suggesting budget priorities or discussing a particular transaction. This is supported by the development of multiple new standards for fiscal data. Government agencies can also use the platform to present their data.
The OpenBudgets.eu platform includes 13 tools aimed at administrations, data managers, and investigative journalists. They make it possible to analyse financial data from different public bodies and jurisdictions, visualise and display it online, and help viewers, even those without specialist data skills, to detect patterns and anomalies. The platform also features tutorials designed to help journalists and civil society activists to investigate public budgets and games aimed at raising awareness of data interpretation and corrupt practices. It also contains information about how EU regional funding is allocated and spent, with regional datasets integrated into one database.
It also provided training for journalists and activists interested in studying this information in more detail. The project also analysed data on MEPs’ expenses. During the project’s lifetime, its tools were tested extensively in Bonn, Paris and Thessaloniki, and other municipalities are now planning to start using them, for example to implement participatory budgeting, which gives citizens a say in how their taxes are spent.
OpenBudgets in brief
- Total Budget: EUR 3 056 208.50 (EU contribution: EUR 2 981 000)
- Duration: 05/2015-10/2017
- Countries involved: Germany (coordinator), Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Spain, United Kingdom
Key figures in the European Union
- Corruption is believed to cost the EU’s economy at least EUR 179 billion annually.
- A game devised by OpenBudgets.eu to explain budget data was featured in 40 newspapers around Europe.
- According to the EU’s eGovernment Action Plan for 2016-2020, by 2020 public administrations and institutions in the EU “should be open, efficient and inclusive”.
The European Commission’s eGovernment Action Plan for 2016-2020 aims to ensure that public administrations and public institutions in the EU are open, efficient and inclusive and provide borderless, personalised, secure, user-friendly, end-to-end digital public services to all citizens and businesses by 2020. Borderless, digital public services will make it easier to travel and work across borders, provide information that is accessible to everyone, including elderly and disabled people, meet data protection and privacy standards, and reduce the number of contact points and requests for information.
To fund this, the European Commission’s proposed new Digital Europe Programme allocates EUR 1.3 billion of funding to broaden the use of digital technologies across the EU, including the digitisation of public administrations and services.