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Canada

Open Information on Budgets and Expenditures (CA0038)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Canada, Second Action Plan, 2014-16

Action Plan Cycle: 2014

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

Fiscal Transparency

IRM Review

IRM Report: Canada End-of-Term Report 2014-2016

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Public Accountability , Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

The Government of Canada will publish expanded information and data on federal
spending to help Canadians understand, and hold government accountable for, the use of public monies.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

Commitment 9. Open Information on Budgets and Expenditures

Commitment Text:

The Government of Canada will publish expanded information and data on federal spending to help Canadians understand, and hold government accountable for, the use of public monies.

One of the most important things Canadians want from their government is information on how their tax dollars are being spent. The budget and expenditures process can often be unclear to citizens, and it is the government's responsibility to make every effort to ensure that taxpayers understand how their money is being spent.

Canada has demonstrated clear leadership in providing Canadians with access to information on government expenditures. Since 2003, federal departments and agencies have proactively disclosed information about government operations on their websites (e.g., travel, contracts, hospitality expenditures) to allow Canadians and Parliament to better hold the government and public sector officials to account. Proactively disclosed information is currently fragmented, since it is published on more than a hundred individual departmental websites. Under our new action plan, Canadians will be provided with single-window access for searching and comparing this information across government.

To ensure that Canadians have the information they need on government finances and expenditures, we will provide enhanced online tools that give a clear picture of the financial expenditures of federal organizations. These tools will provide innovative visualizations of data, interactive infographics, and public reports released as interactive documents. Using these tools, Canadians will be able to track government spending by departments and agencies over time, and more effectively compare and contrast expenditures across departments.

Deliverables to be completed in 2014-16:

  • Launch a new interactive online service that enables Canadians to review and visualize federal spending broken down by department, and to compare expenditures across departments. Consultations with Canadians will be completed to test and ensure the effectiveness of this new online service.
  • Provide single-window, searchable access to information that is proactively disclosed by departments and agencies (e.g., travel and hospitality, contracts, grants and contributions).
    • Standardize procedures for publishing mandatory proactive disclosure information by federal departments and agencies.
  • Make all data from charts and tables in Budget 2015 available in machine-readable formats to facilitate analysis by citizens and parliamentarians.

Responsible institution: Treasury Board Secretariat

Supporting institution(s): None

Start date: November 2014   End date: 30 June 2016

Commitment Aim:

The aim of this commitment is to increase transparency and accountability by providing Canadians with additional information and data related to the spending practices of the federal government.

STATUS

Mid-term: Substantial

As was detailed in the mid-term report, a new online tool—the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) Infobase—for visualizing federal spending was launched in April 2015. It is “a searchable online database providing financial and human resources information on government operations.”

The first phase of the proactive disclosure portal, the second milestone under the commitment, was launched in November 2014 in the form of the Search Government Contracts service detailed under the eighth commitment of this second action plan on Open Contracting (see the previous commitment above). The third milestone was completed.

End of term: Substantial

The first milestone is complete, as the TBS Infobase was not only established, but also enhanced to include a range of options for users to view and explore government spending information. They can view infographics, search information by department, and create a dashboard that provides information using a range of different visuals.  The second milestone is still limited in completion and has been rolled into the next action plan.

Did it open government?

Access to information: Marginal

The TBS Infobase does not provide new information, but does repackage existing information and makes it more accessible and understandable by providing visualization and comparison features. While much of the data provided on the TBS Infobase is available for download via open data, it is not on the TBS Infobase page itself.

Providing the open format on the TBS Infobase site, instead of prompting users to leave the site in search of downloadable formats, would enhance the usability of the new service.

The proactive disclosure portal is too limited in completion to have made any significant difference in the openness of government. There is confusion around the “single window” referenced in this commitment. At the mid-term mark, government interviewees had indicated that the Search Government Contracts service, outlined in the eighth commitment, would provide a platform that can be built on to allow searchable access to other categories of information detailed in the federal proactive information disclosure policy. However, the Search Government Contracts service is not the “single window” detailed in the commitment. Information provided to the IRM researcher at the end of term also notes that completed access to information requests are searchable via the open.canada.ca website. This leads to confusion over where the “single window” resides.

The Canadian government published data from the 2015 federal budget. Charts and tables from the 2015 federal budget are accessible on the open.canada.ca website. Users can download data tables in both official languages (French and English) in either .CSV or Excel formats. Additionally, the federal budget document is available in French and English in PDF format. Although this milestone only stipulated the provision of 2015 budget information, the government released charts and tables from the 2016 budget. However, there is, as yet, no indication that civil society or data users consider the TBS Infobase to have significantly changed openness.

Public Accountability: Marginal

Budget and spending information allows citizens to better track the use of their tax money. This commitment allows users to assess that information in a way, which can make it more accessible and understandable. However, it is too early for accountability results to come from this information – so far, the commitment has only enabled government practice to be subject to future accountable actions.

Carried forward?

This commitment, particularly the second (incomplete) milestone, has been carried into the next action plan. Commitment 10 of the third national action plan is to increase transparency around budget and other department of finance information. Milestones include:

  • Starting with Budget 2017, make all data from budget charts and tables available in near real time to facilitate analysis by citizens and parliamentarians.
  • Post publicly the list of briefing note titles prepared by Department of Finance officials on a regular basis, in order to be transparent about issues raised.
  • Explore options to increase the transparency of the budget pre-consultation process.  Government of Canada, Third National Action Plan, http://open.canada.ca/en/content/third-biennial-plan-open-government-partnership

Canada's Commitments

  1. User-friendly open government

    CA0064, 2018, Capacity Building

  2. Financial transparency and accountability

    CA0065, 2018, E-Government

  3. Corporate transparency

    CA0066, 2018, Beneficial Ownership

  4. Digital government and services

    CA0067, 2018, Capacity Building

  5. Open science

    CA0068, 2018, Capacity Building

  6. Healthy democracy

    CA0069, 2018, E-Government

  7. Access to Information

    CA0070, 2018, Capacity Building

  8. Feminist and inclusive dialogue

    CA0071, 2018, Capacity Building

  9. Reconciliation and open government

    CA0072, 2018, Capacity Building

  10. Open government community

    CA0073, 2018, Capacity Building

  11. Enhance Access to Information

    CA0042, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  12. Streamline Requests for Personal Information

    CA0043, 2016, E-Government

  13. Expand and Improve Open Data

    CA0044, 2016, E-Government

  14. Provide and Preserve Open Information

    CA0045, 2016, E-Government

  15. Define an Approach for Measuring Open Government Performance

    CA0046, 2016, Capacity Building

  16. Develop Open Government Skills across the Federal Public Service

    CA0047, 2016, Capacity Building

  17. Embed Transparency Requirements in the Federal Service Strategy

    CA0048, 2016, Capacity Building

  18. Enhance Access to Culture & Heritage Collections

    CA0049, 2016, Capacity Building

  19. Enhance Openness of Information on Government Spending and Procurement

    CA0050, 2016, Capacity Building

  20. Increase Transparency of Budget and Other Department of Finance Information

    CA0051, 2016, Capacity Building

  21. Starred commitment Increase Transparency of Grants and Contributions Funding

    CA0052, 2016, Capacity Building

  22. Improve Public Information on Canadian Corporations

    CA0053, 2016, E-Government

  23. Increase the Availability and Usability of Geospatial Data

    CA0054, 2016, Capacity Building

  24. Increase Openness of Federal Science Activities (Open Science)

    CA0055, 2016, Capacity Building

  25. Stimulate Innovation through Canada’s Open Data Exchange (ODX)

    CA0056, 2016, E-Government

  26. Align Open Data across Canada (Open Data Canada)

    CA0057, 2016, Capacity Building

  27. Implement the Extractives Sector Transparency Measures Act

    CA0058, 2016, Capacity Building

  28. Support Openness and Transparency Initiatives around the World

    CA0059, 2016, Aid

  29. Engage Civil Society on Open Government

    CA0060, 2016, Public Participation

  30. Enable Open Dialogue and Open Policy Making

    CA0061, 2016, Capacity Building

  31. Promote Open Government Globally

    CA0062, 2016, Capacity Building

  32. Engage Canadians to Improve Key Canada Revenue Agency Services

    CA0063, 2016, Fiscal Transparency

  33. Implement Directive on Open Government

    CA0030, 2014, Open Data

  34. Starred commitment Open Data Canada

    CA0031, 2014, Open Data

  35. Canadian Open Data Exchange (ODX)

    CA0032, 2014, Capacity Building

  36. Open Data for Development

    CA0033, 2014, Capacity Building

  37. Open Data Core Commitment

    CA0034, 2014, Open Data

  38. Starred commitment Open Science

    CA0035, 2014, Science & Technology

  39. Starred commitment Mandatory Reporting on Extractives

    CA0036, 2014, Extractive Industries

  40. Open Contracting

    CA0037, 2014, Open Contracting and Procurement

  41. Open Information on Budgets and Expenditures

    CA0038, 2014, Fiscal Transparency

  42. Digital Literacy

    CA0039, 2014, Capacity Building

  43. Open Information Core Commitment

    CA0040, 2014, Right to Information

  44. Consulting Canadians

    CA0041, 2014, Marginalized Communities

  45. Starred commitment International Aid Transparency Initiative: Publish plan to make CIDA activities available and accessible

    CA0010, 2012, Aid

  46. International Aid Transparency Initiative: Implement plan

    CA0011, 2012, Aid

  47. Opening Government of Canada Records: Increase access to archived federal documents at Library and Archives Canada

    CA0012, 2012, Records Management

  48. Opening Government of Canada Records: Issue new mandatory policy on document classification

    CA0013, 2012, Records Management

  49. Opening Government of Canada Records: Make classified information available online

    CA0014, 2012, E-Government

  50. GCDOCS: Deploy wave one of electronic record and document management solution

    CA0015, 2012, E-Government

  51. GCDOCS: Deploy across federal government

    CA0016, 2012, E-Government

  52. GCWEB: Develop consolidated web presence

    CA0017, 2012, E-Government

  53. GCWEB: Implement new platform

    CA0018, 2012, E-Government

  54. Data.gc.ca: Expand number of datasets available

    CA0019, 2012, E-Government

  55. Data.gc.ca: Implement data.gc.ca portal

    CA0020, 2012, E-Government

  56. Data.gc.ca: Improve standardization of data

    CA0021, 2012, E-Government

  57. Government of Canada Resource Management Data: Publish resource management and performance data

    CA0022, 2012, E-Government

  58. Government of Canada Resource Management Data: Enhance search and data tools

    CA0023, 2012, E-Government

  59. Consulting Canadians: Develop new platform for consultation

    CA0024, 2012, E-Government

  60. Consulting Canadians: Develop standard approach to use of social media

    CA0025, 2012, E-Government

  61. Consulting Canadians: Pilot a crowdsourcing initiative

    CA0026, 2012, E-Government

  62. Consulting Canadians: Enable use of common online tools

    CA0027, 2012, E-Government

  63. Open Regulation: Federal regulators to post forward regulatory plans

    CA0028, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  64. Open Regulation: Simplify engagement activities

    CA0029, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  65. Open Government Directive: Issue Directive on Open Government

    CA0001, 2012, E-Government

  66. Open Government Directive: Implement Directive on Open Government

    CA0002, 2012, E-Government

  67. Starred commitment Open Government Licence: Issue Open Government Licence

    CA0003, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  68. Starred commitment Open Government Licence: Adopt Open Government Licence

    CA0004, 2012, Records Management

  69. Modernising Administration of Access to Information: Pilot of online request and payment service

    CA0005, 2012, Fiscal Transparency

  70. Modernising Administration of Access to Information: Implement ATI Solution

    CA0006, 2012, Fiscal Transparency

  71. Modernising Administration of Access to Information: Make completed ATI request summaries searchable

    CA0007, 2012, Right to Information

  72. Virtual Library: Begin design of virtual library

    CA0008, 2012, E-Government

  73. Virtual Library: Launch virtual library

    CA0009, 2012, E-Government