Reporting of Government Finances: Recommendations

Status: v0.2 – RFC Draft – Comments welcome (wdmmg@okfn.org or the mailing list)


Reporting of government finances, whether at the national, regional or local level, should comply with the following principles:

1. Make data openly available using an explicit license

The data should be open data, that is it should be made freely available under an explicit license or waiver for use, reuse and redidstribution by any interested party (including commercial users and those from other jurisdictions).

*In some jurisdictions such a license or waiver may already be embedded in the national or local laws. Elsewhere a license will be needed. For examples of suitable open licenses for data see *

2. Make raw data available in machine-readable form

Financial reporting must include the raw data in a conveniently machine-readable form.

3. Fine granularity of reporting

Transactional data (payee and recipient) should be provided wherever possible. All transactions above a threshold of £1k ($1k,€1k or their local equivalent) should be reported. All spending above a threshold of £25k ($2k,€2k etc) should be broken down to a more granular level (if possible).

4. Use Standard Open Formats and Classifications

Provide data in standard (open) formats and using standard classifications. For example:

  • Time: using standard reporting periods (e.g. financial year, quarterly etc)
  • Entity names: use a standard list of identifiers for government departments and other governmental bodies. For companies, use the official company number as provided by the official registry rather than referring to company divisions or colloquial names.
  • Location: using standard regional classification or a classification that can be related to another standard one. Where specific geolocation (long/lat, bounding-box) can be provided, do so.
  • Spending classifications: for example use the UN’s Classifications of Function of Government

Note that there is no reason a body could not publish data in its own coding system as long as that body also publishes the mapping onto a standard coding system.

5. Data must be Aggregatable

The data must be aggregatable between bodies, that is sources of money as well as spending should be reported. Acquisitions of services or goods by one governmental entity from another entity must be listed with the identifier for the supplying body listed. For example, Departments should show all transactions with other departments.

6. Associate accounts information with broader organisational activity

Wherever possible, tie financial information into information about the organisations broader activites. For example, Contracts between governmental entities and third parties should be associated to accounts information (e.g. specific spending items).

Authors

  • Lisa Evans, Where Does My Money Go?
  • Chris Taggart, Openly Local and Where Does My Money Go?
  • Rufus Pollock, Open Knowledge Foundation, Where Does My Money Go?
  • Alistair Turnbull, Open Knowledge Foundation, Where Does My Money Go?
  • Your Name Here – see above for how to contribute

Changelog

v0.2

  • Explicit mention of licensing in point 1 (courtesy of Matthew Pearce)

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