[open-development] Spending Data Handbook - What should go into it?

Lucy Chambers lucy.chambers at okfn.org
Wed Sep 12 14:49:13 UTC 2012

Dear List, (apologies for cross-post)

As many of you will be aware. Over the last couple of months, I've been
talking to CSOs around the world about how they get, work with and present
government financial information. My aim was to identify where the sticking
points in the process are, and work out whether anything can be built,
written or proposed to solve them.

One thing that we thought might help was to put together a Spending Data
Handbook for NGOs, with tips and tricks from the data wrangling world to
speed up work they are already doing and to help those wanting to be more
ambitious with data to get a foot in the door.

Based on my conversations with NGOs around the world, I've put together a
quick blog post on my thoughts about suggested chapters:
http://openspending.org/blog/2012/09/11/Spending-Data-Handbook.html (also
listed below).

I know there are many NGOs on this list and part of the working group, so
I'd really love to hear from you what you think would be the most useful
things for you and organisations like you to know more about. Please do
send me your thoughts, either via the list, or via this very short form:

I expect the main writing period will take place in November, so if there
is interest, I can organise a call to talk it over further (after

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts,


Suggested topics:
*How can CSOs be more effective in their use of data? What should they be
asking governments for?*

   - How can they be more effective in requesting (and keeping hold of)
   meaningful information from government?
   - Which phases of the budget/procurement cycle do they need to demand
   data from?
   - What technical formats are ideal for re-use and interpretation?
   - What transparency rules need to be in place to enforce publication?
   - How can they make backups of the data that has been published?
   - How can they extract data from sources on the web?

*How can data be analysed and interpreted?

   - Which phases of the budget/procurement cycle produce which kind of
   data? Which tools do you need to work with these different types of data?
   - What different data formats can be used - and how?
   - What is the difference between structured and unstructured digital
   - How can unstructured data be re-structured?
   - What are PDF files and how can information from them be extracted?
   - How can you convert between different structured formats?

*How can data be cleaned up and brought into a more uniform format? How can
data be augmented to allow for more meaningful interpretation?

   - How can government classifications (codesheets) be applied?
   - How can geographic information be included?
   - How can information about vendors/suppliers be included?

*How can data be delivered to the public?

   - What are databases, query languages? How can they be used?
   - How can you summarize large sets of data?
   - How can data be presented in an accessible and meaningful way?

Lucy Chambers
Community Coordinator,
OpenSpending & Data Journalism
Open Knowledge Foundation
Skype: lucyfediachambers
Twitter: @lucyfedia
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.okfn.org/pipermail/open-development/attachments/20120912/15874019/attachment.html>

More information about the open-development mailing list