Open Contracting

This website has a very interesting take on open contracting. Contracting is one of the biggest sources of expenditures for any government and also a big source of corruption if not the biggest. By opening up contracting, the process becomes transparent for all and increases accountability.

First post

In this post, I would like to talk a bit about the International Budget Partnership (IBP). As they say on their website, IBP works with civil society organizations to make budgets transparent and accessible. One of their products is the Open Budget Index (OBI). The OBI ranks budgets of central governments on transparency. The narrow focus of the index makes it easy to understand and measure, and be consistent over the years. The website has nearly a decade worth of data. The index is presented every two years (except, it seems, 2015) which makes for a decent amount of time for the countries evaluated to make any changes and be measured again soon.

While I was a graduate student, I tried to evaluate whether there was a causal link between budget transparency and free trade – does having higher central budget transparency correlate to being part of more free trade agreements. There was no correlation.

Closer to home, there was an attempt to make budgeting transparent and accessible in the City of Toronto. I had approached the organizer to have a similar event in the City of Mississauga, but received no response.

If you are interested in organizing an event around open budgeting in Mississauga, (or for Peel Region), please get in touch!


Digital things from the 2016 Ontario budget

This post by Grahame Rivers describes three digital things included in the 2016 Ontario budget:

  1. Ontario’s Digital Office has been launched.
  2. Public participation in the budget process led to people suggested initiatives being included in the budget.
  3. Ontario drivers can now provide electronic proof of auto insurance. This may be news to some, but in a poor country like India, police and government have long been accepting photos of a Driver’s License as valid. It is good to see Ontario catch up to this practice.
  4. As a bonus, the budget also makes efforts to increase Digital literacy and inclusion.

Cross posted.

Ontario’s public accounts go digital

Ontario’s public accounts are now available in a downloadable format. This blog post provides details on the same.

The visualizations are certainly useful tools to help newbies learn the topic. But it bears keeping in mind that ever since public accounts have been kept, spending and accounting has been done without visualisations and have brought us to the state we are in today.