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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

2 Table of contents 1. Foreword International requirements and good practices International initiatives Fundamental aspects of fiscal transparency and public accounts data dissemination 5 Comprehensiveness... 5 Reliability... 6 Comparability (in time and space) and timeliness... 7 Understandable to the public What is a Citizens Budget... 9 Main elements of a Citizens Budget Citizens Budget style and format Citizens Budget dissemination New challenges for fiscal transparency: open government data Some benefits of open data inside and outside the public administration Open public finance data Technological solutions System architecture for data dissemination at GDPA Geographical Information System (GIS) Statistical tools for data management Data Warehouse Data Visualization Open Data tools Interoperability to data Public understanding and involvement Public consultations Promoting data use and re-use through websites and competitions

3 1. Foreword The foundation of modern public financial reporting lies in the communication of financial information about the government s activities to citizens and their representatives in Parliament. Indeed, fiscal transparency is a key aspect of the accountability for the way in which governments raise taxes, borrow, and spend public money and, since the late nineties, 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 activities of 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 markets These Guidelines aim at improving the GDPA capacity for data publication and accessibility according to the following viewpoints: contents; technological solutions (IT architecture and software platforms) and public understanding and involvement (media, citizens, NGOs). Particular focus is made on opportunities for public accounts dissemination and communication through open data. Each topic is presented briefly and accompanied by a more extensive list of examples, references and websites. 3

4 2. International requirements and good practices 2.1 International initiatives Guidelines and assessments on the extent to which countries satisfy them are promoted by 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 on Fiscal Transparency which led to a voluntary program of fiscal transparency assessments called fiscal transparency modules of Reports on the Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSC). The Code provides a comprehensive framework for fiscal transparency and focuses on clear roles and responsibilities, transparent budget processes, public availability of information, and assurances of integrity. To expand and explain the principles of the Code, and to help guide the conduct of fiscal ROSCs, a Manual on Fiscal Transparency was released and revised in ) OECD Best Practices for Budget Transparency (since 2001) The OECD best practices for budget transparency are a reference tool supporting the full disclosure of all relevant fiscal information in a timely and systematic manner and provide a series of best practices in the areas of principal budget reports, specific disclosures, quality, and integrity. 3) Open Budget Initiative (since 2005) The International Budget Partnership conducts, in collaboration with civil society around the world, a biennial Open Budget Survey and Index, providing ratings of the openness of budget material in over 60 countries. The detailed and systematic survey of current practice is performed by local experts (in Turkey TESEV). The Index assesses the availability of key budget documents, the quantity of information they provide, and the timeliness of their dissemination to citizens in order to provide reliable information on each country s commitment to budget transparency and accountability. 4) Open Government Partnership (OGP) on Budget Transparency (since 2011) The Open Government Partnership is a multilateral initiative advance in It aim to secure commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. OGP is overseen by a 4

5 steering committee of eight governments and nine civil society organizations. It has a specific module on budget transparency and reporting standards. One of the core principles states Transparency: information on government activities and decisions is open, comprehensive, timely, freely available to the public and meets basic open data standards (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 data dissemination The dissemination of data on public accounts should follow basic principles, such as comprehensiveness, reliability, timeliness, comparability in time and space, and being understandable to the public. Hereafter a selection of the main features connected to each principle. Comprehensiveness The budget documentation, including the final accounts, and other published fiscal 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 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. Reliability Fiscal data should meet accepted data quality standards, related to definitions and classifications: 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 classifications and 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 appropriations An in-depth treatment of this issue is found in the IMF s July 2003 Data Quality Assessment Framework and Data Quality Program, at and 6

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 yearto-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 Box 3: The Open Budget Index (OBI) for Turkey The Open Budget Index is an initiative of the International Budget Partnership. It assigns countries a transparency score on a 100-point scale using 92 questions from a detailed Survey focusing on whether the government provides the public with timely access to comprehensive information 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 consistently improved from 42 points over 100 in 2006 to 57 in The overall situation is comparable to several 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 The main OBI recommendations in 2010 for Turkey concerned the following data dissemination areas: 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 period For more information see: 8

9 Understandable to the public The understanding of the budget process by individual citizens and non-governmental organizations should actively be promoted. In particular, the public should be provided with comprehensive information on past, current, and projected fiscal activity and on major fiscal risks. Fiscal information should be presented in a way that facilitates policy analysis and promotes accountability. Regularly reports, should be published in a simple language. There should be a commitment to make timely publication of fiscal information written in a simple language which can be easily understood by the public at large. The publication should also contain a description of the budget process, including the roles of the executive branch, in preparing the budget and of the legislature in authorising government taxation, borrowing, and expenditure. This objective can be achieved presenting fiscal information in a way that facilitates policy analysis: While selecting the information to public the following two concepts should be 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 understandable it is often not sufficient to simply disclose specialized documents e statistics. Promoting a Citizens Budget in a language that ordinary people can understand and appreciate is a way to facilitate communication to the public. 2.3 What is a Citizens Budget Financial data provided by governments are not always easily understood by the general public for various reasons: because they may be presented in a highly technical way, according to aggregates and categories relevant to the administrations operations but not the citizens main interests. This may impede citizens capability to understand where their 9

10 financial contribution goes. A Citizens budget is a tool for empowering citizens to be aware of the budget process and to follow how budgetary resources are used. It is thus a tool to understand the whole budget process and its implementation and to contribute to accountability and transparency of service providers for public administrations. The International Budget Partnership (IBP) definition for Citizens Budget is A citizen budget is a non-technical presentation of the government budget which is intended to enable the public-including those who are not familiar with public finance-understand government plans. Generally speaking, a Citizens budget is a collective term for various ways to involve citizens in the budget process and allocation of financial resources. The concept was started in the late 1980s in the city of Porto Alegre (Brazil) and since then, it has spread to all continents and is currently active at country, regional and local level in many places around the world. Today, thanks to ICT technology, a Citizens budget can become an interactive tool for governments and public institutions to receive feedback from citizens on matters of public interest. Usually, a Citizens Budget is mainly aimed at the communication to the public Executive s Budget Proposal. In this case it should be produced at the same time the budget is presented to the legislature. In some cases, the Citizens Budget is in fact based on the Enacted Budget or Budget Law and illustrates presenting the estimate of income received by the State, as well as the expenditures estimates that are authorized to the institutions so they can execute programs and projects; which in turn translates into public services financed by taxes that have been collected. However, a clear understanding of what has actually happened during the Budget Execution through the representation of the outturns/end-of-year financial statement and how much or why it has differed from the initial 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 government's 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 larger governance agenda, and should involve the cooperation with civil society, good governance and rule of law which have been proved to be increasingly critical elements in guaranteeing transparency. 10

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 Budget Citizens Budget should thus include the following main principles: Clarity of roles and responsibilities: a clear explanation of the structure and functions of the government, of the responsibilities within government, and of the relations between government and the rest of the economy should be provided in order to better understand the 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 of fiscal 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 is estimated / 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 source and where applicable: by major programme by funding line 11

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 reason Additional 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 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 format The Citizens Budget is deliberately produced for citizens and explains how the government collects, distributes and uses public resources. The best format should be a stand-alone technical document, ideally produced by Ministry of Finance, written in simple language 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: Citizens Budget dissemination The Citizens Budget should be actively disseminated. It is suggested to arrange launches in occasion of public seminars, conferences and in occasion of Public Administration Fairs both at national and at international level. it should also be encouraged the NGOs 13

14 participation, to publicize its availability on the web. Copies should be made available in hard copy and electronic form, but also alternative formats can be considered such as: Video clips Radio podcasts Poster Pamphlets Additional educational materials could be prepared to be disseminated in schools, so that teachers, together with their students use it as an educational subject. Awards could be published in schools were teachers and student will be asked to explain the budget to the general Public. The best budget representation could be used as a standard format for the publication of the Citizens Budget. In case of multi-ethnic communities the use of multiple languages should be considered, together with its availability in formats and tools which take into consideration the disadvantaged groups. Finally, the Citizens Budget, once published, 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 ed 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 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 Nigerian Budget made simple Guatemala s Citizen Budget The city of Cologne s participatory budget experience Local Budgeting in Oregon 15

16 2.4 New challenges for fiscal transparency: open government data The 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 information and data. Today, most people would agree that the new standard of public transparency is measured by the amount, significance and re-usability of data released on the web. Data on revenues and expenditures should be easily accessible, digital, reuseable from a technical and legal point of view, machine readable,. === open data The idea is that with open data the public can sort, search, and transform the information 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 administrations that is shared with the public digitally, over the Internet, in a way that promotes analysis and reuse. The notion of open government data has been around for some years. Since 2009, governments are making important pronouncements on the principles for transparency in government and on the value of making public data widely accessible for practical applications in and out of civic life and are launching open data portals. A data portal as a single point of access to documents available for re-use that is downloading, searching, analyzing and re-elaborating - such as in the United Kindgom, in France, in Italy, in Finland and many others. While e-government explores how governments can best exploit ICT to embed good governance principles and achieve public policy goals, open data concentrates on the availability and accessibility of data, and on idea that third parties may provide services with such data as well. 16

17 Box 6: The definition of openness Supposedly, open data should be released in a machine-processable format and with no patent licensing restrictions, so that the public can sort, search, and transform the information to meet their needs. Different definitions emphasize different features of openness. A comprehensive overview is provided by which lists the following features: 1. Access Available as a whole and at a reasonable reproduction cost, preferably downloading via the Internet without charge. The work must be available in a convenient and modifiable form. 2. Redistribution The license shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away the work either on its own or as part of a package made from derived work. License without royalty or other fee. 3. Reuse The license must allow for modifications and must allow them to be distributed under the terms of the original work. 4. Absence of Technological Restriction The work must be provided in such a form that there are no technological obstacles to the performance of the above activities (eg. open data format) 5. Attribution The license may require the attribution of the contributors and creators to the work. 6. Integrity The license may require as a condition for the work being distributed in modified form that the resulting work carry a different name or version number from the original work. 7. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups The license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons. 8. No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor The license must not restrict anyone from use the work in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the work from being used in a business, or for genetic research 9. Distribution of License The rights attached to the work must apply to all to whom the program is redistributed without the need for execution of an additional license by those parties. 10. License Must Not Be Specific to a Package The rights attached to the work must not depend on the work being part of a particular package. If the work is extracted from that package, all parties redistributed should have the same rights as the original package. 11. License Must Not Restrict the Distribution of other Works The license must not place restrictions on other works that are distributed along with the licensed work. For example, the license must not insist that all other works distributed on the same medium are open. Open data does not mean data identifying or that provides ways to identify individuals, unless that information is already published. 17

18 Public expenditure data are a prime element of open data initiatives and the open data concept can, in turn, offer a very interesting platform to disseminate information of public revenues and expenditures, and on all other aspects of public finance. The main aspect is the possibility to provide a detailed account by publishing raw data in addition to aggregates. 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 use made of EU money to explain better what Europe does and why it matters.a consultation, opened on 3 May and closed on 31 August 2006, was promoted by the European Commission was based on a series of questions related to EU funds beneficiaries ( The main result of this process was the adoption of the revised Financial Regulation (December 13, 2006) in which the EU committed itself to full transparency about who receives monies from the 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 From a normative point of view, much of the debate on open data today in the EU revolves around the ongoing revision process of Directive 2003/98 for the re-use Public Sector Information (see Box 7). 18

19 Box 7: EU Directive 2003/98 for the re-use Public Sector Information The main objective of the Directive is to establish a minimum set of rules governing the reuse and the practical means of facilitating re-use of existing documents held by public sector bodies 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 Issues under discussion: General rule that all documents held by public sector bodies will be reusable 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 Europe 1, in addition to adapting the legal framework for data re-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 Some benefits of open data inside and outside the public administration Broadly speaking, there are numerous benefits of open data the public administration as well as for users. Experience up to now suggests the following: Accountability: the expectation is that modern, democratic government shares information with the society it governs to demonstrate freedom from corruption and appropriate use of public funds. Efficiency improvements within the administration: public reporting of costs and comparative outcomes can be a driver of efficiency. Internal collection and monitoring of management information is critical for driving efficiency improvements, and for making informed strategic decisions. Service performance: at present, where data is not open outside government, it may often not be available inside government as well. Public sector bodies are not easily able to benchmark their costs and the quality of their services against their peers and may have falsely high or low understanding of their performance. In some cases, peerbased 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 management and end users can find any errors. Data exchange: Open Data released by Public Bodies can be directly used by other Public Administrations, replacing costly dedicated processes; Linked Open Data can be used to share content definition, following the Semantic Web metaphor. Innovation in public services: Open Data presents opportunities for public service transformation by giving users more power to self-serve. New markets: A new market for public service information can develop if data is freely available 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 data Il must be kept in mind that the release of raw data is very significant in itself and it provides an opportunity for many interested parties to understand public finances and answer specific and significant questions on revenue and expenditures. However, it does not by itself make the government's finances necessarily more scrutable and understandable. Indeed, raw accounting data usually contains messy information, many alphanumerical and 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 as Microsoft 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 The following are examples of some already existing good practices on the disclosure of detailed 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 EXAMPLE: THE US RECOVERY.GOV To achieve its transparency goal, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 requires recipients of recovery funds to report every January, 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 as unemployment benefits); federal contracts, grants and loans. The vast majority of the recipients fall into one of four categories: State/local governments, 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, the recipient 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 completed Screenshots from the website are shown in the following pages. See: 22

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26 The following are examples of some already existing good practices of gathering and reusing 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 3. Technological solutions The efforts to produce a more friendly approach to data dissemination and to increase citizens 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, and consequently it introduces a data dissemination system proposal with several paragraph on 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 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 Portal 1 Data input Accounting Data are inserted directly in Say2000i System which performs automatically all activated controls Accounting Data, inserted in a xls file, are uploaded after automatic control processes 28

29 3.1 System architecture for data dissemination at GDPA Currently, internal end users can ask for specific queries to be developed, but at present they cannot directly retrieve data. There are no tools to make direct queries, except for the Oracle tools used by IT staff. Therefore the creation of a proper datawarehouse, separated from the operational database, with query functions available to both internal and external end users would be the best ITC solution. The data dissemination proceedings need to improve the current IT System through its own greater specialization by implementing a distinct date base upload by Say2000i data store where is possible to adopt statistical procedures as data cleaning, filtering, missing value, and transformation in time series format. The adoption of a system ad-hoc realize a easier 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 Among the major findings found out with the staff members of IT department, is the rapid development towards an OLAP, online analytical processing structure and the upgrade of hardware technologies to Oracle database machine. The proposal guidelines for creating a Dissemination System are based on dedicated platform with a operational data base alimented by the accounting system storage, a staging area where data are computed and refined by statistical tools transforming financial figures (data registration status) to Statistical data ready for publishing (validation status). Currently, external end users may only access the financial statistical reports while the following proposal includes a proper data warehouse, separated from the operational database, with query functions available to both internal and external end users. The objective is to provide a external utilization of statistical data to citizens by creating a dedicated web site where it is possible to log on with direct access to the data warehouse performing queries and data extraction. Fig. 2. Data dissemination System A dedicated IT platform with an operational database for computing statistical controls, and eventually to run software applications or statistical tools, will be achieved through the 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 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 model where the operational data will be migrated in a dedicated system for data dissemination where data are normalized, cleansed and integrated on a operational db passing through several staging areas of statistical data production. In the final stage, the statistical data will me migrated in a DW where data are accessible to external end users (citizen and professional users) via web portal. On other side, internal end users need to provide the already scheduled publications and in addition a data aggregation by accounting rules, dividing data production in classes for scope of data quality control and verification of consolidated budget. Fig. 3 - Logical architecture and information model 31

32 The data dissemination system as designed in the information model above represents a IT 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 ITC department at GDPA has approached the formalization of procedures in line with Control Objective Standards (COBIT), a standard de facto in IT audit. Consequently, future applications running in the area of data dissemination and publications, need to follow the procedures established by this standard in order to define a new group of functions for the specific area Statistical reporting of financial figures. The creation of specialized web portal dedicated to data diffusion should include tools for improving citizens understanding of statistical information including data visualization tools and Geographical Information Systems (GIS). 3.2 Geographical Information System (GIS) Data representation on geographical maps is considered the best solution for better explaining to people the activities made from Central and Local Government in the territory. Geographic information system is a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present all types of geographical data. The acronym GIS is sometimes used for geographical information science and represents the merging of cartography, statistical analysis, and database technology. A GIS can be thought of as a system it digitally creates and "manipulates" spatial areas that may be jurisdictional, purpose, or application-oriented. A GIS developed for an application, jurisdiction, or purpose may not be necessarily interoperable or compatible with other systems and it is based on a spatial data infrastructure (SDI), a concept that has 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. It needs of data repository central to computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) as a part of dissemination system asset and analytical software systems. GIS applications are tools that allow users to create interactive queries (user-created searches), analyze spatial information, edit data in maps, and present the results of all these operations. 32

33 Nevertheless the financial figures and budget execution data belonging to GDPA s data store need of classification for typology of expenditure (infrastructure, education, healthy, cohesion, agriculture, etc) and these groups of financial expenditure may be applied with statistical information from territory as density of population, medium age of population, university and education centers, medium salary,., and main territory resources improving the users understanding to economical life of Turkish Republic. GIS technologies assure a prompt data visualization of financial data to users in the own territory providing an interactive tool to compare Public Government activities closer to the population interest. This power tool of data visualization fits perfectly for population curiosity while is less useful for budget execution inherent some class of expenditure not linked to the territory. 3.3 Statistical tools for data management Many 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 introduced to 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 for working 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 to other formats. Its interface is similar to spreadsheet applications (and can work with spreadsheet file formats), however acts more like database. It operates on rows of data which have cells under columns, which is very similar to relational database tables. One Refine project is one table. User can filter rows to display defining 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 on existing column data, etc. All actions that were done on dataset are stored in project and can be replayed on another dataset. Unlike spreadsheets, no formulas are stored in cells, but formulas are used to transform data, and transformation is done only once. Program has web user interface, however it is not hosted by software developer, but available for download and use on local machine. When starting Refine, it starts web server and starts browser to open web UI powered by this webserver. Another tool from Google is Google BigQuery, a web service that lets you do interactive analysis of massive datasets up to billions of rows. Scalable and easy to use, BigQuery lets developers and businesses tap into powerful data analytics on demand. 33

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 has shared 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 service with 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 s been around for over 15 years. R is an open-source language for statistical computing and data visualization, supporting data manipulation and transformations, as well as sophisticated graphical displays. Corporate data analysts and statisticians often know R and use it in their daily work, either writing their own R functionality, or leveraging the more than 3400 open source packages. The Comprehensive R Archive Network (CRAN supports a wide range of statistical and data analysis capabilities. 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 s easy to install and use, and it s free. To expand R features, recently Oracle corporation released Oracle R Enterprise ( that lifts memory and computational constraint found in R today by executing requested R calculations on data in the database. Oracle R Enterprise allows users to further leverage Oracle's engineered systems, like Exadata, already used in Turkish MoF, for enterprisewide analytics. 3.4 Data Warehouse Data Warehouse technology is one of the techniques usually included in Business Intelligence techniques. It provides to users data coming from a cleaned, transformed Data 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 is essential to enable users to analyze data in custom mode, then download the final results in the desired format. Many examples of DW are available, some DW tools are developed as an extension of traditional DBMSs, others are products specifically designed for Business Intelligence. Both proprietary and open-source products software are available. DW could improve the ability for 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 ( Here our suggestion to introduce Data Warehouse tool: start analyzing Data Warehouse tools market compare tools characteristics with GDPA requirements 34

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 Visualization More and more statistical organizations are using new methods to present statistical data, starting from Maps and Advanced Graphic Method (Hans Rosling is considered the father of 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 the current status of metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) for an enterprise. Dashboards consolidate and arrange numbers, metrics and sometimes performance scorecards on a single screen. Dashboards can often be obtained using Data Warehouse tools quoted in previous paragraph. A simple way to start presenting data using advanced visualization techniques is Google Public Data Explorer (, a tool by which every organization 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 Many organizations have chosen this way of publishing (often as additional way to their website), 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. Using VIDI tools you can display changes in data values over time, relate data in various ways to geographical 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 IBM ManyEyes (; the service is offered by IBM and the site is really easy to use: 35

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 others Any kind of data set you upload is visible for the community: a nice way to share discoveries, find cool stuff and start meaningful discussions. Talking about new visualizations, we must quote the Infographics, graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge. Good examples of Infographics can be found at and Other websites dedicated to visualization tools and methods: Many visualization techniques are also available in modules of tools presented above in 3.2 and 3.3 paragraphs. 36

37 Examples of Advanced Visualizations mentioned in the text First of all an example of Dashboard, in which many different graphics are collected to give the user an overview, a glance of the situation. Then we introduce a page from the World Bank website, one of the best-practice for data presentation: in this page you can see a sort of Statistical Dashboard 37

38 examples 9 (continued) Here a chart obtained from Google Public Data Explorer, a free service in which many national and international organizations store their data so that users can process them also in graphical ways Finally an example from Gapminder, a graph with moving bubble-chart to show the trends over the past two centuries of economic and health indicators 38

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