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Italy

Follow the Money (SoldiPubblici) (IT0021)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Not Attached

Action Plan Cycle: 2014

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: AgID

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

Audits and Controls, E-Government, Fiscal Transparency, Open Data, Participation in Budget Processes, Public Participation

IRM Review

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

Starred: Yes Starred

Early Results: Major Major

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Improving data usability; establishing communities for data re-use; communication and awareness-raising initiatives; and training for data re-use: ñ for citizens: a) greater transparency; (b) clear understanding of public expenditure (c) possibility to be involved in participative budgeting initiatives; ñ for public administrations: a) rationalization of expenditure; b) encouraging open data reuse; (c) greater confidence; d) possibility to compare expenditure with other administrations.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

Commitment 5. Follow the Money (SoldiPubblici) ()

Commitment Text:

Improving data usability; establishing communities for data re-use; communication and awareness raising initiatives; and training for data re-use:

for citizens: a) greater transparency; (b) clear understanding of public expenditure (c) possibility to be involved in participative budgeting initiatives;

for public administrations: a) rationalization of expenditure; b) encouraging open data reuse; (c) greater confidence; d) possibility to compare expenditure with other administrations.

Specific objectives:

-SoldiPubblici: a web platform to monitor and analyze financial information from public institutions such as budgets, expenses and contracts.

-An open dataset which provides greater transparency and understanding of how public money is spent through a graphic representation of data and their processing. All the platform material will be released in open data format and open content. It will be mainly provided through open tools and available under an open license.

In particular, the site will allow citizens to:

- interrogate public administrations’ expenses using the SIOPE database;

- interrogate central administration expenses;

- display and interrogate local public administrations’ budgets according to a uniform ranking;

- explore the timeframe of spending with different levels of aggregation;

- download the datasets of interest in an open format;

- display charts and benchmarking indicators

Responsible institution: AgID

Supporting institution(s):

Start date:  January 2015                                         End date: December 2015

Commitment Aim:

This commitment aimed at improving understanding of public expenditure and engaging the public in participative budgeting initiatives through a unique open data portal dedicate to the public expenditures.

More specifically, the commitment set out to:

- disclose public administrations’ expenses using an ad-hoc database called SIOPE;

- search central administration expenses;

- search local public administrations’ budgets according to a uniform ranking;

- explore the timeframe of spending with different levels of aggregation, charts and benchmarking indicators;

- download the datasets of interest in an open format;

Status: Complete at the Mid-term

Based on the database SIOPE of the National Bank (Banca d'Italia)[Note 7: http://www.siope.tesoro.it/], the portal was released for the first time in December 2014, at the same time as the Second Action Plan.

This action was included as a commitment in the action plan because of its potential and meaningfulness, but the added value of the action plan to the existing commitment was unclear. The action aims at increasing usability of data through the creation of communities, communication initiatives and provision of training for data reuse.

At the time of the mid-term report not all of public administration entities were participating, particularly small municipalities that were having a hard time finding the resources to implement the initiative.

The interface was upgraded in November 2015 and the search engine was made more user friendly. Since then, new datasets have also been added including all local and central public administrations[Note 8: http://soldipubblici.gov.it/it/help]. These new datasets include all annual payments and disbursements of any public entity divided by different classification codes. With this upgrade, the Soldipubblici platform now includes payments for expenses sustained by 22 public entities that include ministries, municipalities, medical services, universities and other local authorities[Note 9: Each payment has to be transferred to a main database called SIOPE where the Soldipubblici platform is linked. A new decree (Decreto 9 giugno 2016) about SIOPE has now extended the obligation to transfer payments for regions and local administrators. http://www.agid.gov.it/sites/default/files/documentazione/circolare_agid_siope.pdf

 ].

Did it open government?

Access to information: Major

Soldipubblici.gov.it aimed at promoting the civic access to public expenditures from all public administration bodies, including all central and local government agencies. This initiative has raised awareness about the Open Data ecosystem, and is seen as an innovative tool to fight corruption.  

From this website, citizens can find expenditures of many public authorities through a semantic search engine. According to government figures made available to the IRM researchers, more than 1.5 million queries have been made in the first 30 days of activities. From November 2015 to July 2016, the portal has registered 39.118 accesses and 82.909 page visualizations, with an average now of 4,436 monthly access.

This initiative provided better quantity and quality of the information. However due to the lack of common standards among administrations in collecting and presenting financial information and expenditures, this effect can be visible only in “vertical” analysis about each local or central administrations while it remains difficult to carry out “horizontal” analysis aiming at comparing costs and expenditures between administrations. This limits reflects on the scope and extent of the level of civic participation enabled by the initiative.

A major change is registered in the possibility now offered to dig further into the work of single administrations and influence decisions at local level or within single central administrations, while it remains challenging to “compare and contrast” data between different entities. The IRM researchers did not find cases of officials accountable for their actions as a result of this initiative. However, in accordance to civil society organizations interviewed by the IRM researcher, given its high potential in triggering answerability, it would be useful to monitor and evaluate the initiative on a regular basis over a longer timeframe in order to assess its real impact.

Carried forward?

This commitment was complete so no further action was needed. Therefore, it was not carried over to the next action plan.


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