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Lava Jato Hackathon: Journalists and developers creating algorithms and web apps to fight corruption

Convoca - May 24, 2018 in Follow the Money, Open Data Day, open data day 2018, peru

This blog has been translated from the Spanish blog report at Convoca This blog is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2018. On Saturday 3 March, groups from around the world organised over 400 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. 45 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by Hivos, SPARC, Mapbox, the Hewlett Foundation and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. The event in this blog was supported through the mini-grants scheme under the Follow the Money theme. We organised in Peru the first hackathon to develop apps to fight corruption. Using open data about public works and people involved in the “Lava Jato” case (Operation Car Wash) we gathered journalists, developers, different professionals and young students to work together on innovative proposals through more than 18 hours. Four years after the investigation of this biggest corruption scandal in Latin America started in Brazil, Convoca organized the “Hackathon Lava Jato”, on March 16 and 17 celebrating Open Data Day. This event brought together anti-corruption experts with young professionals. To do this, we made open data available about Odebrecht contracts and their increased costs. We gathered contracts through Freedom of Information requests (FOI), information of official websites and own sources, built together with the 20 Latin American and African journalists of the “Investiga Lava Jato” project. Avelino Guillén, the former prosecutor of the most important corruption cases in the country, including the former president Alberto Fujimori’s, and Vanessa Zorrilla, an expert lawyer in public procurement presented to about 70 participants. Guillén talked to them about the judiciary system to tackle corruption and its weakness to fight it, as well as the sophisticated strategies used to hide ill-gotten gains. Zorrilla highlighted the importance of transparency in the public procurement process and invited the youth to request information about contracts and transactions when public money is involved, and use the FOI and Transparency laws. Journalists, web developers, designers, lawyers; and academics created new tools to access information about the Lava Jato case. The criteria to select the winning projects were: project impact and viability; meeting goals of the event; innovation and creativity, as well as how developed the project was. The jury was formed by experts in the different topics: Avelino Guillén, former state prosecutor; Irina Ávilna the founding director of MakerLAB; Milagros Salazar, journalist and director of Convoca.pe; and Elvis Rivera, the developer and lead of Convoca Lab. Based on these criteria we got three winners:
  1. Face to Face”, a project developed by David Chapuis, Luis Castillo, José Osnar, Randy Ortiz and Joseph Patiño. A detector of gesture patterns that analyzes potential corrupt characters through and algorithm. People can also access public interest information like their bios, court processes and others. This project seeks to prevent cases like Lava Jato in Peru.  
  2. ‘Lava Jabot’, built by Jean Pierre Tincopa, Dulce Alarcon and Jorge Tuanama. This team built a bot using AI. They seek to use its preset responses to bring people closer to the information about contracts, public works and people involved in Lava Jato. They decided to show simple and interactive information to their users. Through Facebook Messenger, people can access infographics, audios (of the depositions), or geolocated information about the closest Odebrecht works and how big their cost overrun was.
  3. Sin Justicia” (Without Justice), developed by Luis Enrique Pérez, Luis Vertiz, Yesenia Chavarry, Edson Torres and Rocío Arteaga seeks to emphasize the consequences and inequalities caused by corruption. Their web app shows the amount and law office defending corrupt politicians paid with public money. This is compared with the public funds used to defend other citizens. It also compares the amount spent in defending public officials with the cost of improvements in the country.
Beside these projects, we had honorable mentions of two initiatives that seek to bring attention to corruption through comics, infographics and illustrations. The website “Jóvenes en acción” (Youth in action” built by Carolina Cortez López, Daniel Pumayauli, Tania Angulo, Rosio Ramos, Abel Salazar, and ‘Divina Aceitada’, a project developed by Patrick Valentín, Joel Romero, Rolly Rodríguez, Rodolfo Carrillo and Fernando Tincopa. This hackathon showed that there is great interest from the youth to fight corruption. Also, the projects they developed are an example of creativity and symbiosis of journalism with technology to benefit people. We spread the word about the results through social media and in the different open data, journalism and technology communities. Convoca published these achievements in its digital medium and interviewed the winners in the radio program “Café Convoca”. The next step is to keep supporting these initiatives that contribute significantly to transparency and accountability. The Lava Jato Hackathon was run with support from Hivos and Open Knowledge International as part of the “Investiga Lava Jato” initiative, the Centro de Innovación y Desarrollo Emprendedor de la Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP) and Lab San Isidro.

Open Government and Open Contracting in Paraguay and Cameroon

Rodrigo Valdez - May 14, 2018 in cameroon, Follow the Money, Open Contracting, Open Data Day, open data day 2018, Paraguay

This blog was written by Rodrigo Valdez (Girolabs) and Transparency International Cameroon. This blog is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2018. On Saturday 3 March, groups from around the world organised over 400 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. 45 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by Hivos, SPARC, Mapbox, the Hewlett Foundation and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. The events in this blog were supported through the mini-grants scheme under the Follow the Money theme.

Open Data Day #Unconference Asunción 2018

On March 3, along with other hundreds of cities, we celebrated Open Data Day in Asunción, Paraguay. For the third year in a row, the Girolabs team took the initiative to bring together people passionate about open data; as always it turned out to be a remarkable event. We decided to get together at Loffice Bulnes. This is the biggest coworking space network in the country and Bulnes is a space dedicated to entrepreneurship and social development, where Girolabs was born and has grown as a company, and where whe share space with other enterprises. This year we decided to innovate the format of the event so we organized an Unconference. What does this mean? Basically, it’s a model to break the common dynamics where few people speak. During an unconference, there is an open opportunity for everyone to speak and listen. It’s easier to understand if we tell you how it happened: First, the participants developed the program for the day. They chose the topics to discuss. Everyone had a possibility to suggest up to four topics and put them on the wall with a post-it. This way we made sure to include everyone’s interests in the dialogue. After this we grouped people by topic, putting the common topics together and identifying others. Through this we got to three main topics that guided us through the afternoon sessions:
  • Enterprise Open Data and Innovation
  • Government Open Data and the new Action Plan
  • Politicians and Elections Open Data
Once we got the big picture of the topics, we assigned three tables to have conversations simultaneously. Each person could decide where to join and we speaking rounds to make sure everyone could speak. This way people participated in two different tables, with different people. Each table had a moderator guiding the conversations. On the Government Open Data table we had Federico Sosa, the General Director of Open Government moderating and they gathered many proposals to include in the new Action Plan, which will be executed by mid-year. The Innovation and Enterprises table with Margarita Rojas focused on innovation through data science and big data in companies, as well as the importance of the data that companies hold and how it can help improve the commercial experience and life quality. A topic that also came up quite strongly was the need to bring academia and open data together, particularly through a thesis repository, so people can take advantage of these documents that tend to be stored in university libraries. In the third table, the A Quienes Elegimos team lead the politics conversation. A few days before national elections, the topics of transparency and civic engagement resonated quite strongly with participants. Two factors were that thanks to open data, we can help people understand who represents them, participate and vote consciously. To finalize each table presented their topics and we had an open mic so participants could present their own projects. Among them, SENATICS presented their achievements and challenges regarding open data. The developers of the Ministry of Finance and the Public Procurement Office presented the portals they built and the importance of using them to track public money. For one more year, we have proven that spaces like Open Data Day are very valuable for people, but specially it becomes clear how much work there is left to do. As a community, we expect to keep creating spaces where people, CSOs and government can talk in a convivial way.

Transparency International Cameroon celebrates the 8th edition of the Open Data day with a focus on the Public Procurement sector

Transparency International-Cameroon (TI-C) on Friday March 16 hosted an information and awareness raising workshop to celebrate the 8th edition of the International Open Data Day. Under the theme “Why should Cameroon use the Open Data Standards for Procurement to Combat Corruption in its Public Procurement System?”, the workshop organized with the financial support of the Open Data Community gathered representatives from the government, media, local councils, civil society organizations and technical and financial partners.

The workshop was a combination of presentations and interactive sessions. The participants had their capacities strenghtened through the following presentations:

  1. Corruption in the public procurement sector in Cameroon: Causes, Manifestations and consequences. An expert from Transparency International Cameroon provided the participants with facts and figures on corruption in the public procurement sector.
  2. Understanding the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS). With the presence of an expert on open data issues, the participants were able to have a better comprehension of “open data”, “open Contracting”, and “open contracting data standard”. The expert went further in his presentation to demonstrate how OCDS can help promote transparency and integrity in the public procurement sector.
  3. Open Data and the fight against corruption: the nexus. In this presentation and taking into consideration the context of Cameroon, the expert from transparency International presented the advantages of “open data” and “OCDS” in contributing to the reduction of corruption in the procurement sector. He went further to demonstrate how open data can help mitigate some corruption risks.

In the context of Cameroon, the key questions was, how can civil society organizations promote OCDS? While brainstorming on the question, participants realized that there are challenges to be addressed to facilitate the adoption of OCDS by government agencies. Among them we have:

  1. The absence of an information law: Cameroon does not yet have a law that could allow citizen to have access to information wherever they are and for whatever purpose. This has been identified as a major challenge in promoting OCDS.
  2. Non-adherence to international initiatives on Open Data: The country has not joined some of the recent initiatives aiming at facilitating and promoting open data. For instance Cameroon is not a member of the “Open Government Partnership”.
  3. Weak technical expertise from government and Civil society organizations: Implementing open data or open contracting data required a specific skill which is lacking at the national level. Therefore there is need to strengthen the capacities of stakeholders before preparing them to the use of open data tools.
  4. Poor knowledge of open data concepts and tools by the final beneficiaries: Participants believed that data are very sensible and if not well used can become a weapon. Therefore the questions raised were: (i) are citizens prepare to receive some data? (ii) And are they equipped to analyze the data? To these questions, participants expressed the need to educate citizens on open data and to conduct a sort of open data comprehension index as well.

The event was broadcasted on a national TV station during the Evening news the same day, also, one of the journalist present during the workshop had two articles published in its newspaper (Le quotidian l’Economie).

   

We should however underline here that this workshop is in line with the missions of the recently established “Open Contracting Working Group – Cameroon” composed mainly of three Cameroonian civil society organizations namely: Transparency International Cameroon, AfroLeadership and CRADDEC.

Follow the Money in Uruguay, Argentina and El Salvador

Maximiliano Debenedetti - May 7, 2018 in argentina, El Salvador, Follow the Money, Open Data Day, open data day 2018, uruguay

This blog has been written by Maximiliano Benedetti (Demos) and CoST El Salvador This blog is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2018. On Saturday 3 March, groups from around the world organised over 400 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. 45 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by Hivos, SPARC, Mapbox, the Hewlett Foundation and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. The events in this blog were supported through the mini-grants scheme under the Follow the Money theme.

Uruguay & Argentina: Río Abierto

For the second year in a row, we celebrated Open Data Day in Río Uruguay. It took place on 3 March 2018 in the city of Paysandú. In this occasion the activity focused on the economical problems that floodings bring, tracking the public funds used to alleviate the damages these natural phenomenons cause. Argentina and Uruguay are borderlining countries divided by two important natural barriers: the River Plate and the Uruguay River. We focused on the Uruguay River given that in recent years floodings have increasingly affected the population in the coast cities and rural areas. Because of these catastrophes, governments must respond immediately. They need to not only recover production, commerce and tourism in such zones, but also rebuild the basic rights that are affected. The event was hosted by three organisations that work with data: Datos Concepción from Argentina; Demos from Uruguay; and PODER with their Latin American office. We got interest from the Council of Concepción del Uruguay, the support of Radio Franca and the presence of the Argentinian Consulate in Uruguay, as well as the Paysandú Development Agency, who supported greatly to run the event. We also developed a website for the event, which we will update with each edition (www.datosriouruguay.org) The event was designed prioritizing the collective activity of participants. We ran a hackathon. Since we had different levels of knowledge regarding the topic, we started with an introduction to open data, why they’re important and how they can be used. Then we showed some practical examples, which were useful to launch the hackathon. Approximately 30 people were registered for this year. From the event we had two different proposals. Una was generating an “Flooding expenditure calculator” to help local governments manage these catastrophes. The second was to create an information system about the affected territories, focusing on a regional map that allows people to update the information about each zone. In an agreement with the Paysandú Development Agency, we gave the prize of incubation of the projects. In order to give continuity, we want the winning group (Flooding expenditure calculator) to have the chance to continue working on the project with the support of the organizers.

Tracking the money of contracting public infrastructure in El Salvador

On Friday, March 16, 2018, thanks to the support of Open Data Day, an event called “Track the money of infrastructure contracting in El Salvador” was held, where the following topics were discussed:
  • Importance of transparency in the construction sector
  • Importance of access to public information
  • Forms of disclosure of information by public institutions, proactive disclosure, and reactive disclosure
  • Access to Public Information Law (LAIP)
  • Overview of CoST El Salvador: what is CoST, work methodology, assurance process, indicators
The event was aimed at students and university professors, since it was considered that they can be agents of change to promote a culture based on transparency and tracking of the money of public infrastructure contracting. On this occasion the event was held in a private university in the country, however, due to the acceptance of the event, it is being negotiated with other universities to provide similar events. In addition to the presentation made, the participants were given a brochure containing information on the subject matter dealt with, in order to try to expand the information. CoST  is an initiative that seeks to increase the value of public infrastructure throughout the world, by increasing the transparency with which projects are executed, as well as encouraging citizen demand for accountability.  One of the main lines of work of CoST is the Assurance Process, which is designed to improve the usefulness of the information that public institutions disclose about infrastructure projects. This is done by means of the verification of the information based on the CoST Infrastructure Data Standard, which is made up of 79 indicators or Data Points that cover all the stages of the construction of a work.

Follow the Money in Uruguay, Argentina and El Salvador

Maximiliano Debenedetti - May 7, 2018 in argentina, El Salvador, Follow the Money, Open Data Day, open data day 2018, uruguay

This blog has been written by Maximiliano Benedetti (Demos) and CoST El Salvador This blog is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2018. On Saturday 3 March, groups from around the world organised over 400 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. 45 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by Hivos, SPARC, Mapbox, the Hewlett Foundation and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. The events in this blog were supported through the mini-grants scheme under the Follow the Money theme.

Uruguay & Argentina: Río Abierto

For the second year in a row, we celebrated Open Data Day in Río Uruguay. It took place on 3 March 2018 in the city of Paysandú. In this occasion the activity focused on the economical problems that floodings bring, tracking the public funds used to alleviate the damages these natural phenomenons cause. Argentina and Uruguay are borderlining countries divided by two important natural barriers: the River Plate and the Uruguay River. We focused on the Uruguay River given that in recent years floodings have increasingly affected the population in the coast cities and rural areas. Because of these catastrophes, governments must respond immediately. They need to not only recover production, commerce and tourism in such zones, but also rebuild the basic rights that are affected. The event was hosted by three organisations that work with data: Datos Concepción from Argentina; Demos from Uruguay; and PODER with their Latin American office. We got interest from the Council of Concepción del Uruguay, the support of Radio Franca and the presence of the Argentinian Consulate in Uruguay, as well as the Paysandú Development Agency, who supported greatly to run the event. We also developed a website for the event, which we will update with each edition (www.datosriouruguay.org) The event was designed prioritizing the collective activity of participants. We ran a hackathon. Since we had different levels of knowledge regarding the topic, we started with an introduction to open data, why they’re important and how they can be used. Then we showed some practical examples, which were useful to launch the hackathon. Approximately 30 people were registered for this year. From the event we had two different proposals. Una was generating an “Flooding expenditure calculator” to help local governments manage these catastrophes. The second was to create an information system about the affected territories, focusing on a regional map that allows people to update the information about each zone. In an agreement with the Paysandú Development Agency, we gave the prize of incubation of the projects. In order to give continuity, we want the winning group (Flooding expenditure calculator) to have the chance to continue working on the project with the support of the organizers.

Tracking the money of contracting public infrastructure in El Salvador

On Friday, March 16, 2018, thanks to the support of Open Data Day, an event called “Track the money of infrastructure contracting in El Salvador” was held, where the following topics were discussed:
  • Importance of transparency in the construction sector
  • Importance of access to public information
  • Forms of disclosure of information by public institutions, proactive disclosure, and reactive disclosure
  • Access to Public Information Law (LAIP)
  • Overview of CoST El Salvador: what is CoST, work methodology, assurance process, indicators
The event was aimed at students and university professors, since it was considered that they can be agents of change to promote a culture based on transparency and tracking of the money of public infrastructure contracting. On this occasion the event was held in a private university in the country, however, due to the acceptance of the event, it is being negotiated with other universities to provide similar events. In addition to the presentation made, the participants were given a brochure containing information on the subject matter dealt with, in order to try to expand the information. CoST  is an initiative that seeks to increase the value of public infrastructure throughout the world, by increasing the transparency with which projects are executed, as well as encouraging citizen demand for accountability.  One of the main lines of work of CoST is the Assurance Process, which is designed to improve the usefulness of the information that public institutions disclose about infrastructure projects. This is done by means of the verification of the information based on the CoST Infrastructure Data Standard, which is made up of 79 indicators or Data Points that cover all the stages of the construction of a work.

Open contracting for sustainable development in Cambodia

Thy Try - May 3, 2018 in Cambodia, development, Follow the Money, Open Data Day, open data day 2018

This blog has been reposted from the Open Development Cambodia blog This blog is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2018. On Saturday 3 March, groups from around the world organised over 400 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. 45 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by Hivos, SPARC, Mapbox, the Hewlett Foundation and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. The event in this blog was supported through the mini-grants scheme under the Follow the Money theme. From Cape Town to Helsinki, between Wellington and Sao Paulo: Some 400 events took place during this year’s Open Data Day. Of course, Open Development Cambodia (ODC) was part of the global event. For the Cambodian edition of the annual celebration of the international open data, ODC organized an informative and lively event with presentations and discussions on Saturday, March 3, 2018, at Emerald Hub, Cambodia. The main theme of ODC’s Open Data Day: ‘Open Contracting for sustainable development’. The Phnom Penh edition of the Open Data Day 2018 kicked off with a brief introduction by Mr. Thy Try, ODC’s Executive director/Editor-in-chief. ODC’s Data researcher and GIS Officer, Mr. Prum Punwath, continued with a presentation about open contracting, this year’s key focus of Phnom Penh’s Open Data Day. As Cambodia continues its economic and social development, and as foreign investment in Cambodia grows, openness and transparency have become an imperative. Even though contract agreements between the government and invested company should be public, they are extremely hard to find. This limits the transparency and accountability practices, especially when it comes to land and natural resources investments in Cambodia. Based on the idea of open contracting, 33 contracts, 33 mining licenses and 2 Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) between the Government and investment companies on Economic Land Concessions (ELCs) and mining are now available on the ODC platform, some of these documents are mostly available in Khmer language; however, the ODC team has been working on making the metadata of those agreements are available in English too. Besides Laws, Policies and Agreements page, ODC also provides multiple additional geographical data visualized on the interactive maps and profile page of Economic Land Concessions and Mining licenses. The public can add more layers to these maps which can yield new insights. Further, ODC’s documentation of relevant laws provides a good overview of regulations which can be used to substantiate the research from a legal perspective. We believe that those data and information will promote the understanding on the shared responsibility of government and investors related to land investments to local communities and public, and also creates opportunities for civic engagement. During the Open Data Day 2018, ODC called for data contribution as well. The public, both local and international NGOs, students, professors and research community are encouraged to join ODC to make the data more diverse, and to promote the sustainable development in the country. To become one of ODC data contributors, everyone just can go to register at “Data contribution” page. A slightly different angle on open data took Vivek Anand Asokan who presented results of his research about data approaches for sustainability in India. Vivek Anand Asokan, a researcher from Tokyo University, is currently visiting the ODC office as a research fellow. His elaborations illustrated that the actors who provide open data and the ways they are presented have changed in India between the beginning of the millennia and today. While in the early phase of open data NGOs published primarily general open data in a library-like style, nowadays the number of actors who are involved with open data has proliferated: the government, private corporations, and media outlets have become active in this field with more specific data and a focus on data verification. While indeed the celebration of open data was the guiding theme of the Open Data Day, Ms. Terry Parnell, founder of ODC, and Mr. John Weeks, ODC board member, took a more critical approach when they introduced ten potential dangers of open data during the next slot. Those dangers include wrong interpretations which could lead to confabulation, potential manipulations of data as well as risks for those who use open data or are under discussion in the data. Hence, Terry and John claimed that those who are publishing data should do it in a responsible way and offer some context to it. They concluded: “Open data must be accurate and verified!” Mr. Soeung Saran, Executive Director of Sahmakum Teang Tnaut, assumed a more practical perspective when he presented how open data can have very tangible impacts on everyone’s life. Open Urban Data, the project he introduced, is a good example for the usefulness of open data projects. Citizens can report cases they personally observe, such as bad road conditions, flooding, or traffic jams using Urban Voice App. The data are then presented in an interactive map on www.urbanvoicecambodia.net and can help improve the situation. During the afternoon session, Mr. Sok Lak, Co-founder of Scholar Library, illustrated how critical it is for people to have access to information and how libraries can contribute to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He emphasised that library is a significant tool to promote literacy and the access to information for citizens as well as that it helps government, civil society and business to have more understanding on needed information  in the right place. The day closed with a group activity – with some competition involved! During a “Hackathon”,  three groups were assigned to translate and fill in metadata of documents related to the sustainable development goals. With this task ODC intended to teach the participants to entry document resources into the CKAN datahub. After they finished the task, ODC members evaluated the results and awarded the best competitors with public transport tickets. The documents which have been prepared during this session will be published on the ODC platform soon. ODC’s Open Data Day showed a multitude of applications of open data. This fruitful and active event was attended by 50 participants from various sectors included a representative from the government sectors, private sectors and academia and other NGOs.  The participation of so many interested people encourages ODC to keep on working with its mission to pursue the idea of open data. This year’s edition was already the fifth one ODC hosted in Phnom Penh. We are already looking forward to Open Data Day 2019.

Makerere University Students Embrace Open Contracting!

Gilbert Sendugwa - May 1, 2018 in Follow the Money, Open Contracting, Open Data Day, open data day 2018, uganda

This blog is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2018. On Saturday 3 March, groups from around the world organised over 400 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. 45 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by Hivos, SPARC, Mapbox, the Hewlett Foundation and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. The events in this blog were supported through the mini-grants scheme under the Follow the Money theme. Public contracts mean a lot to every Ugandan. It is a means through which many citizens receive government services or face frustrations with failure of services. Yet many Ugandans remain unaware of what government has contracted, they service they are to provide, to whom, when, where and how. Short as these questions may appear, they are important to determine whether citizens will get services paid for by governments, in the right quantities and quality. This was revealed by a recent contracts monitoring report by Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) in which 79% of contracts accessed were not reflected in procurement plans as required, up to 95% of contracts were being procured through selective bidding, contract prices being determined by source of funding rather than technical designs and scope of work, revealing of high possibility of collusion and fraud. This work was done with support from the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA). Access to information was enabled by use of information requests and visiting the Government Procurement Portal that was recently aligned to the Open Contracting Data Standards following AFIC’s advocacy to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) The main lesson from this finding was a positive government attitude to the feedback: all districts where monitoring was done accepted findings and committed to implement recommendations. The Minister of finance alongside PPDA also agreed to strengthen oversight of contracting processes as well as training procurement entities on the law, procedures and disclosure requirements.

Open Data Day

To create awareness about the Government Procurement Portal and use of the Askyourgov.ug portal to access public information, AFIC in collaboration with PPDA organized an Open Data Day 2018 clinic for students pursuing bachelor’s degree in procurement at Makerere University.  The event aimed to create awareness about their right to information, open contracting, share experience and the tools available to enable them exercise their rights and participate in public contracting. Prior to the symposium, students were tested on their level of awareness and practice regarding access to information and open contracting. The purpose of this activity was to gain appreciation of their level of awareness in order to pitch the discussions accordingly. It was also to facilitate measurement of the effect of the event on participants. Altogether, seventy one (36 male and 35 female) students attended.  A Twitter session accompanied the process in order to engage a wider audience beyond those who were in the room. The results of the assessments are presented here below. At the end of the event, an evaluation questionnaire was administered among participants to determine effectiveness of the training.  When asked as to whether Uganda had an Access to Information Act in the pretest, 37% answered in affirmative, 28% said no while 35% were not sure. This implies that the majority, 63% of the participants didn’t have knowledge of the existence of an access to information law at the beginning of the training. Considering that there were university students, it implies that the level of awareness among the general population is even lower. When asked the same question at the end of the clinic, a significant majority, 85% answered in affirmative while 7% said no while 9% were not sure. This means that at least 48% of the participants had actually gained information about the existence of the ATI law from this training. 18% of the participants who were not aware or not sure could be explained by the fact that some of the students came late and found when the session had started.

Figure 1: Whether participants knew of the existence of Access to Information Act

Another area where participants were tested awareness was who the information officer under the Act was. In the pre-test, it was found that 79% did not know who the officer was while 21% didn’t know or were not sure. At the end of the training the number of students who didn’t know the Information Officer of public agencies in terms of the Access to Information Act had reduced to 30%. When asked about their awareness of the existence of the Askyourgov portal (www.askyourgov.ug), 77% indicated they were not aware while 23% had heard about the portal but never used it before. This portal was developed by AFIC in collaboration with the Office of the Prime Minister in 2014 in order to facilitate filing of online information requests. The portal has an advantage that both filed requests and responses are deposited on the portal, limiting the possibility of repeat questions. The portal also generates statistics on requests received and how agencies have dealt with requests as well as feedback from requestors. Following the training 93% of the participants said they were aware about the Askyourgov portal, a significant gain from the clinic. During the workshop the students were aided to register and use the Ask Your Gov portal. Open contracting was one of the topics prepared to create awareness on amongst the participants.  In this regard, the students were asked what they understood by public contracting and they pretty much could relate with the concept. Prior the session, the participants were tasked to list at least 5 problems that they knew about that were associated with public contracts. Among the problems listed included; Bribery, Limited Skills, Bureaucracy, Lack of information, Fraud, Mismanagement, Non-disclosure, Substandard work, No response, Corruption, Embezzlement, Incomplete contracts, Poor work done, Conflict of interest, Nepotism, Delays and Collusion. An in-depth analysis was done to identify the most considered problems and the illustration below shows the most identified problems in public procurement by the students or procurement. At least every one of the participants was aware of problems associated with public contracting with corruption, delays and secrecy being ranked high.  Procurement students were asked whether they knew about the existence of the Government Procurement Portal where procurement data is published. In the pre-test a significant proportion 60%, knew about the existence of the portal. However, those that didn’t know were significant at 40%. The post test revealed that a greater majority, 96% of the participants were now aware. Having trained them on the access to information Act, the Government Procurement Portal and the Askyourgov portal, students were encouraged to file information requests. In the brainstorm students indented many pieces of information they were going to request access. Dr. Catherine Mbide, the Head of Procurement Department at Makerere University commended AFIC for organizing the training. She recalled how she was forced to change her research topic for her doctorate studies due to lack of access to information. She invited AFIC and PPDA to consider a long term collaboration on open contracting and access to information with the University. This was a very exciting event and the enthusiasm and commitment by students and their lecturers demonstrated eagerness.

Celebrating Open Data Day 2018 in Nigeria

Olusegun Elemo - April 23, 2018 in Follow the Money, Nigeria, Open Data Day, open data day 2018

This blog is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2018. On Saturday 3 March, groups from around the world organised over 400 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. 45 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by Hivos, SPARC, Mapbox, the Hewlett Foundation and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. The events in this blog were supported through the mini-grants scheme under the Follow the Money theme. The concept of open data is growing rapidly across borders and Nigeria isn’t left out of this budding movement. Paradigm Leadership Support Initiative (PLSI) and OrderPaper Nigeria joined the global open data community to celebrate Open Data Day 2018 and further contributed to the discourse on why certain data should be publicly available in both human and machine-readable formats and accessible without any constraint whatsoever. PLSI’s local event which held at LPI_Hub located within University of Ibadan – Nigeria’s premiere University focused on promoting use of open data in tracking audited funds for developmental projects in Nigerian local communities to foster public accountability and improved service delivery. Likewise, OrderPaper which had developed a Mobile App “ConsTrack” to track constituency projects equally convened a townhall to celebrate the day. Its event was however targeted at training community youths and raising them to become FollowtheFunds Grassroots Champions (FGCs) to track, monitor and report on constituency projects undertaken by members of the National Assembly representing the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

Who Attended?

PLSI assembled various stakeholders in the open data community including data analysts, developers, creative artists, University students, Corps members and other lovers of data. 26 participants attended the event with 56% being males and 44% females. PLSI’s mentor and partner organization – BudgIT was equally represented at the event by two members of its research team – Olaniyi Olaleye and Thaddeus Jolaiyemi. Olaniyi delivered a stunning presentation on “Budget Access – Contracting and Audit” to take participants through the transit mechanism of data from budget to contracting and audit. PLSI’s Executive Director – Olusegun Elemo equally presented on the “Concept of Open Data” as well as a “Walk-Through session on Citizen Participatory Audit”. Also, OrderPaper had 14 participants drawn from various area councils that make up the FCT who were trained on the use of data and technology to interrogate constituency projects in a bid to ensure inclusiveness, transparency and accountability. It is instructive that before the event, 78.5% of the participants rated government presence (generally) in terms of infrastructure and service delivery in their respective communities below average. Specific to constituency projects, many of the participants said implementation was “abysmal” as several communities like Igu in Bwari Area council was revealed to be without a good road.

Participants at the OrderPaper Nigeria Open Data Day 2018

Breakout Session

PLSI organized a datathon exercise for participants to relate directly with audit data of the Federal Government of Nigeria. Three groups worked to analyze and mine raw data as contained in 2013, 2014 and 2015 audit reports. The groups selected three thematic areas to include water, education and health. All three groups went on to visualize their data using creative tools and subsequently presented their findings to the larger audience.

Lessons and Challenges

Despite the rapid growth of Open Data concept in Nigeria, several individuals including key stakeholders in the Open Data space learnt about use of open data and its impact on community development for the first time at the two events. This goes to show the need to continually grow the open data community in Nigeria. PLSI had firsthand view of how unfamiliar participants felt to the Open Data space. Even though 15% were conversant with open data concept, 85% had no clue whatsoever on the importance and usage of Open Data or audit data to track public spending and demand accountability. Many were amazed in the end at how simple the subject is to understand and how critical Open Data is to improving service delivery in Nigeria. Participants were equally introduced to Value for Money – a platform to track, report and act on audited developmental projects abandoned, unexecuted or poorly executed in their communities. Similarly, at OrderPaper’s event, only 78% of the participants knew who the Senator for the FCT is while 72% knew their House of Representatives members. In a shocking revelation, none of the participants knew the amount of money budgeted for constituency projects in two federal constituencies and senatorial districts that make up the territory. It was therefore a great gain that the town hall achieved the impartation of knowledge about who the representatives are; how much was budgeted for constituency projects in the 2016 national appropriation act; and how much was released by government for the execution of the projects. These findings greatly stimulated the interest of the participants in engaging the ConsTrack App to track and report on projects.

Moving Forward

To sustain a growing community of Open Data users, PLSI at its event commissioned three persons as U.I. Open Data Community Leaders who will continue to work very closely with the organization to promote Open Data usage in the University. PLSI and OrderPaper are grateful to Open Knowledge International and Hivos Global for providing the mini-grant that made the two events a success.

Open Data Day 2018 at iWatch Africa and Open Knowledge Colombia

Luis Vilches-Blázquez - April 9, 2018 in colombia, Follow the Money, ghana, Open Data Day, open data day 2018

Authors:  Gideon Sarpong, iWatch Africa and Luis M. Vliches-Blazquez, Open Knowledge Colombia This report is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2018. On Saturday 3 March, groups from around the world organised over 400 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. Within the key area “Follow the money”, 17 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by Hivos and Open Knowledge International.

Context

iWatch Africa in Ghana sought to create awareness and train student journalists on the use of data journalism tools and new media to track government budget. Fifty student journalists were selected across the country to mark the event in Ghana. The iWatch Data Day event focused on four main themes:
  • Introduction theme- The importance of open data in deepening democracy in Ghana
  • Effective use of data journalism tools to track government budget in Ghana
  • Training on how to use data visualization to tell effective stories
  • Open Forum- How can data journalists harness the power of the new media to promote transparency and accountability in Africa.
In Bogota (Colombia), we developed a hackathon, called #AlimenData, focused on following and visualizing public money associated with School Feeding National Program of Colombia through a co-creation process where different actors were involved.  #AlimenData was performed in conjunction with public sector and civil society. In this hackathon participated the National Secretary for Transparency, Ministry of Finance and Public Credit, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Open Contracting Partnership, and Open Knowledge Colombia. Thirty-six teams were registered, from which ten multi-disciplinary and high-motivated groups (composed of twenty-seven participants in total) were selected across the country in order to develop their ideas. These teams were composed of different actors (citizens, academia, social actors, local governments, etc.).  

Challenges

The major obstacle to the Open Data campaign in Ghana has to do with government’s reluctance to pass the Right to Information Bill after 17 years of active campaign. Among the major challenges identified by iWatch Africa has to do with access to relevant accounts and financial reports. In some cases, accurate expenditure/transfer records do not exist at all. Here CSOs continue to play an important role putting pressure on the government in collaboration with the media, local level service providers and/or users and the public. The #AlimenData event was revolved around two main challenges for hacking the School Feeding National Program of Colombia. On the one hand, how to identify inconsistencies and/or chances within this National Program in order to follow and optimize public funding? And, on the other hand, how to encourage interest of citizens, researchers and media for taking part in the control process of this National Program? In order to encourage these challenges, we suggested different open data related to School Feeding National Program, from which some datasets were proposed as mandatory ones (datasets related to public funding), and other optional ones were suggested (e.g.: datasets associated with population, education, food prices, etc.). Next, we list several of the suggested open data:

Methodology

iWatch Africa marked the Open Data Day event in Accra by officially issuing a call for participation with specific emphasis on student journalists. Our focus was to create awareness and train student journalists on the use of data journalism tools and new media to track government budget. Fifty student journalists were selected across the country to mark the event in Ghana. Gideon Sarpong, iWatch Africa’s Director of Policy and Content Analysis who delivered a speech on the main theme emphasized the importance of open data in addressing the challenge of corruption in Africa. “Open data in governance is critical to addressing corruption in Ghana as well as developing effective policy reforms and an efficient public sector. It is in the interest of public institutions to join in the open data initiative and actively take steps to open up,” Mr. Sarpong stated. Resource person, Justice Kumordzi addressed the theme; Effective use of Data Journalism tools to effectively track government expenditure/budget in Ghana. Mr, Kumordzi focused on the vital role of data journalism in detecting bottlenecks, inefficiencies and/or corruption in the transfer of public goods and resources. He also noted that open data is a key tool for the government and civil society organizations (CSO) to guard against corruption and work towards ensuring a transparent, accountable and effective public financial management. Banini Kwasi Phillip, Communication Director of iWatch Africa also addressed the theme; The use of Data visualization to tell effective stories. Mr. Phillip demonstrated how various data visualisation tool and systems play an important role to enrich one’s story. His presentation focused on the different methods of data presentation emphasizing the text, graphic and tabular forms of presentations. After a practical session of his presentation, participants held on open forum on the theme; How can data journalists harness the power of the new media to promote transparency and accountability in Africa. Open Knowledge Colombia in conjunction with National Secretary for Transparency, Ministry of Finance and Public Credit, Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies, and Open Contracting Partnership prepared a complete agenda for the #AlimenData hackathon. In this scenario, we had the participation of different mentors, which talked about the School Feeding National Program, open data, data cleansing, software developing, visualization, and storytelling. These talks, which were complementary with hacking sessions, helped knowing more deeply our context (School Feeding National Program), the selected datasets, and various techniques and tools. Furthermore, our collaborators accompanied and advised to each group when during all the hackathon. Besides these talks, the participants of the hackathon had a chance to participate in a rehearsal session, where each group presented their preliminary proposals during 3 minutes. In this session different teams received feedback from mentors and organizers. Furthermore, different teams also received feedback from members of other teams, performing a collective co-creation process. This process allowed mutual enriching, since teams exchanged useful and multi-disciplinary viewpoints. The point of convergence between the two organisation’s methodology had to do with data visualisation as an important tool to tell effective stories. While #AlimenData hackathon focused on software developing, visualization, iWatch Africa also focused on practical sessions on three key forms of data visualisation, which include; text, graphic and tabular forms of presentations.

Conclusions

Participants during the open forum resolved to focus on four key themes in 2018 as part of their effort to drive the open data conversation to make meaningful impact in policy making decisions in Ghana. These include;
  1. Critical focus on the passage of the Right to information bill
  2. Procurement- Focus on open data regarding procurement contracts in Ghana
  3. Focus on employment data in Ghana
  4. Open government data
The 2018 International Open Data Day conference organized by iWatch Africa is also part of the larger goal of launching the iProcurement Watch initiative mid-2018. On the other hand, different teams addressed the two main challenges that we proposed in the #AlimenData hackathon. Thus, teams presented various proposals at the end of the Open Data Day. Next we highlight some ones:
  • An application for monitoring and reporting dietary and nutritional supplements.
  • A platform for monitoring the delivery of food portions.
  • A web platform for integrating different datasets related to School Feeding National Program of Colombia.
  • A tool for visualizing characteristics associated with contracting process of this National Program.
The organizers of this hackathon chose one project as winner. The selected one proposed an email service for communicating to parents the menu of each week using open data and blockchain technology. This proposal allows that parents can monitor and report the existing differences between the contracted menu in the context of School Feeding National Program of Colombia and the menu received for their children (students). The work on the projects that has been started during Open Data Day will continue, since we are working with different Governmental bodies in Colombia in order to develop some of these prototypes and to improve School Feeding National Program of Colombia.

Open Data Day in Kenya and in Madagascar

Prisca Rananjarison - March 29, 2018 in Follow the Money, Open Data Day, open data day 2018

Co-authored by Prisca Rananjarison (Madagascar) and Chepkemoi Magdaline (Kenya) This blog is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2018. On Saturday 3 March, groups from around the world organised over 400 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. 45 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by Hivos, SPARC, Mapbox, the Hewlett Foundation and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. The events in this blog were supported through the mini-grants scheme under the Follow the Money theme. Transparency International – Initiative Madagascar organized a conference at the the Resource Center for Contemporary Arts of Madagascar (CRAAM) in Antananarivo regarding open data concerning the public finances in Madagascar. EldoHub organized a hackathon which resulted in data-driven ideas with a hope of disrupting corruption by ensuring transparency and accountability in the use of public funds/resources in Kenya.  The two organizations have the same vision of using open data to support public oversight of governments and to help reduce corruption by enabling greater transparency.  Their objectives were to promote the use open data to contribute to public planning, feedback to public institutions on service quality innovation and economic purposes. EldoHub, located in the western region of Kenya, celebrated the open data day through a hackathon. It was held with a focus on County governments` transparency and accountability. The participants were technologists, university students, entrepreneurs and leaders from other institutions to who brainstormed and came up with lasting solutions for transparency and accountability in government institutions.

Celebration moods at Eldohub

In Madagascar, the event was held on March 6th at the resource center for contemporary arts of Madagascar (CRAAM). A hundred participants (representatives’ of the governments, the ministry, private sector, the civil society, students and regular citizens) attended the event.

at Resource Center  for Contemporary Arts, Madagascar

At EldoHub the main goal for the event was to come up with data driven tools to track county government’s use of finances provided by the national government or solutions that enable public to access information regarding the use of finances in the public offices and track development projects. The following groups presented their ideas to the judges:
  • WIKI FARM – A platform to use open data through SMS and USSD to guide farmers on good farming practices, and how to increase credit worthiness. They also seek to use open data to influence policies to make farming attractive to young people in Kenya and the entire Africa.
  • OKOA Mama – A platform to provide to the community regarding maternal health in Kenya`s public health institution, with the aim of providing solution to the ailing maternal health care system in Kenya. They also use SMS/USSD to reach pregnant women with information.
  • WAZI – A tool that can be used to track financial spending in the government. It can be used to track the budgets and development projects.
  • Exposed – Using data to expose corrupt dealings in the county governments more like whistle blowing.
  • E-transparency – Using open data to reduce favourism, nepotism and corruption in the tendering in the county governments in Kenya.

OKOA Mama presentation time

Judges keenly following thepresentations at Eldohub, Kenya

In Madagascar the event was graced by some speakers who gave keynote speeches on different topics that relate to Open Data Day. The speakers were Prisca Rananjarison (independent journalist and data-activist), Frederic Lesne (Transparency International Intiative Madagascar) and Florian Schatz (BIANCO- Independent anti-corruption office).

Madagascar Open Data Day speakers

First on the floor was Prisca Rananjarison who presented on open data, what it is and the criteria for data openness. She also discussed the problems of open data in Madagascar such as: the data are in pdf formats, most of the data remain in paper form and data are scattered and diluted in many sites. In Madagascar, there is no platform dedicated solely to open data in public finances. Citizens have minimal information on the public budgets. The opportunities available to them to participate in the budgeting process are very limited. Malagasy citizens do not know where the public money goes!  Added to this is the corruption that undermines the country. Second on the floor was Frederic Lesne, who talked about the results of the corruption Perception index (CPI).  Frederic highlighted the Transparency International initiative which intends to work on the promotion of a law on access to information which will allow the government to practice open data. However, he lamented on the government not putting in efforts to join the Open Governmental Partnership: despite it showing the intent to integrate it in 2016, until now nothing has been done. Florian Schatz presented BIANCO`s missions. This independent anti-corruption office aims to fight against corruption in Madagascar. The mission includes three components:
  1. Law enforcement
  2. Education
  3. Preventions
He showed that there is a strong correlation between open data and performance in the fight against corruption. The more open data is, the less corruption there is, as in the North for example.

Florian Schatz, BIANCO

General public airing their views in Madagascar at CRAAM

Next to the keynote sessions in Madagascar, the public were also given a chance to air their opinion on how to improve governance using open data in order to enhance transparency. This day was about introducing the assistance to the challenges of open data. Convinced that this is a wonderful tool against corruption, this conference is the first step of a lobbying aiming at creating a platform dedicated to public finances. But for this to happen, a law on access to information is required. The next action for the Transparency International Initiative Madagascar is to make a multiparty convention that will soon be signed for the promotion of open data in Madagascar. In Kenya the event was all about brainstorming on ideas that can enhance the citizens’ access data and use the data for the benefit of the country. OKOA Mama Group emerged on position one. They were followed by E-transparency as first runner-up and WikiFarm as the second runner-up. They were followed by WAZI and Exposed respectively.

Recommendations and Conclusion

Funding

We recommend the release of funds before the date of the event rather than after the event. This will make it easy for planning and avoid last minute rush. Due to high turnout than the expected, we incurred extra expenses but we are glad that we were still able to make the event more successful despite the shortcomings.

Incubation

From the event, amazing ideas were presented, we feel they should be mentored and incubated. We therefore request that extra funding be provided so that they can be incubated to fruition at EldoHub incubation center. This will ensure all the ideas come to life.

Turn Out

The two events were well attended.

Events in Non- Capital Cities

We also recommend more such events and forums outside the capital cities be supported. This is because a lot of focus has been on the city. In Kenya most hubs are in Nairobi: if other hubs outside the capital city like EldoHub are supported it will lead to more inclusion. For more photos of the Open Data Day, Eldoret, Kenya, click here.  

Just Released: “Where Does Europe’s Money Go? A Guide to EU Budget Data Sources”

Jonathan Gray - July 2, 2015 in Data Journalism, eu, European Union, Featured, financial transparency, Follow the Money, open budget data, Open Fiscal Data, Open Knowledge, Open Spending, Policy, research, Where Does My Money Go

The EU has committed to spending €959,988 billion between 2014 and 2020. This money is disbursed through over 80 funds and programmes that are managed by over 100 different authorities. Where does this money come from? How is it allocated? And how is it spent? Today we are delighted to announce the release of “Where Does Europe’s Money Go? A Guide to EU Budget Data Sources”, which aims to help civil society groups, journalists and others to navigate the vast landscape of documents and datasets in order to “follow the money” in the EU. The guide also suggests steps that institutions should take in order to enable greater democratic oversight of EU public finances. It was undertaken by Open Knowledge with support from the Adessium Foundation.
Where Does Europe's Money Go?
As we have seen from projects like Farm Subsidy and journalistic collaborations around the EU Structural Funds it can be very difficult and time-consuming to put together all of the different pieces needed to understand flows of EU money. Groups of journalists on these projects have spent many months requesting, scraping, cleaning and assembling data to get an overview of just a handful of the many different funds and programmes through which EU money is spent. The analysis of this data has led to many dozens of news stories, and in some cases even criminal investigations. Better data, documentation, advocacy and journalism around EU public money is vital to addressing the “democratic deficit” in EU fiscal policy. To this end, we make the following recommendations to EU institutions and civil society organisations:
  1. Establish a single central point of reference for data and documents about EU revenue, budgeting and expenditure and ensure all the information is up to date at this domain (e.g. at a website such as ec.europa.eu/budget). At the same time, ensure all EU budget data are available from the EU open data portal as open data.
  2. Create an open dataset with key details about each EU fund, including name of the fund, heading, policy, type of management, implementing authorities, link to information on beneficiaries, link to legal basis in Eur-Lex and link to regulation in Eur-Lex.
  3. Extend the Financial Transparency System to all EU funds by integrating or federating detailed data expenditures from Members States, non-EU Members and international organisations. Data on beneficiaries should include, when relevant, a unique European identifier of company, and when the project is co-financed, the exact amount of EU funding received and the total amount of the project.
  4. Clarify and harmonise the legal framework regarding transparency rules for the beneficiaries of EU funds.
  5. Support and strengthen funding for civil society groups and journalists working on EU public finances.
  6. Conduct a more detailed assessment of beneficiary data availability for all EU funds and for all implementing authorities – e.g., through a dedicated “open data audit”.
  7. Build a stronger central base of evidence about the uses and users of EU fiscal data – including data projects, investigative journalism projects and data users in the media and civil society.
Our intention is that the material in this report will become a living resource that we can continue to expand and update. If you have any comments or suggestions, we’d love to hear from you. If you are interested in learning more about Open Knowledge’s other initiatives around open data and financial transparency you can explore the Where Does My Money Go? project, the OpenSpending project, read our other previous guides and reports or join the Follow the Money network. Where Does Europe’s Money Go - A Guide to EU Budget Data Sources