OpenSpending aims to track every government and corporate financial transaction across the world and to present that data in a useful and engaging form.
OpenSpending was started in 2008 as a small project in the UK by the Open Knowledge Foundation as Where Does My Money Go?. It allowed UK citizens to examine where their taxes were being spent through an interactive ‘bubble tree’ visualisation.
In 2011, Where Does My Money Go? joined forces with others to create OpenSpending. In less than a decade, it has undergone two major iterations and now has grown to hold a database of 1000 datasets from around the world, representing more than 28 million transactions.
Where Does My Money Go? has simultaneously continued to grow, and now counts more than 30 local sites across the world.
OpenSpending is three things: a platform for public financial information, such as budgets, spending and procurement; a community of users and contributors who contribute to the project; and a set of resources to help those users and contributors further the OpenSpending project.
At its heart is the community of contributors. Anyone interested in spending data of any kind is invited to contribute data to the OpenSpending database, create visualizations using the OpenSpending software, and use the OpenSpending API.
The goal behind OpenSpending is that by ensuring widespread understanding of government expenditure, society will have a stronger voice in how this money is spent and the ways in which it will impact our lives.
OpenSpending is used by journalists, academics, civil society organisations and campaigners, ranging from mapping foreign aid flows and budget spending in Uganda to identifying surveillance companies which hold government contracts and tracking deforestation. Its sister site, SpendingStories, which allows citizens to map public spending data to public spending stories.
The next generation of OpenSpending is currently being built, named OpenSpending Next. This new and improved version will provide tools that will enable users to visualise, analyse and publish budget and spending data, making it easier to see how and where public money is being spent.
Image: Martin Grandjean
Case study date: October 2016