COINs database opened up
Government spending has always been enigmatic. Ministers blithely stand at the despatch box to speak of a billion here and a billion there as if it means nothing to talk of money in these terms.
And somehow, this money – our money – vanishes into the complex world of Whitehall, and the number of people who can tell you where the money ended up is vanishingly small. Freedom of Information campaigners have sought for years to get access to details of government spending, only to be stymied at every turn. But now, in a bold reversal of that policy, the database used by the Treasury to overlook spending – the Combined Online Information System – has been published in open formats.
Such is the complexity of the database that the Government is anticipating that useful analysis will come from independent experts rather than Government mandarins. The BBC has the story covered in more depth here, but we already think this is a marvellous idea with huge potential to shift the relationship between people and their government in the people’s favour.
Perhaps the best early adaptation of the data can be found at wheredoesmymoneygo.org - which while lacking granular detail has amazing visualisations of where our money is currently being spent.