OpenAus Overview & Call to Action

This post was created automatically via an RSS feed and was originally published at https://openaus.net.au/blog/2015/08/09/openaus-overview-call-to-action/

OpenAus is a new project in financial and political transparency for Australia. OpenAus relies on ‘open data’. Open data is data (usually published by governments) that is made available free for re-use for commercial or non-commercial uses. OpenAus takes financial data sets published by the Commonwealth and State governments and makes them searchable separately and also matches terms against other data sets so users can see at a glance where funds relevant to their search term is spent across other agencies and jurisdictions.

Think of this site like a cube. Each data set (eg DSS grants, DCCSDS grants, charities data, tenders data etc) is able to be searched through a different side of the cube. At the same time each data set can also be searched against the others on this site. So while each sub-project has it’s own individual interface and is a project in its own right, each project also provides a window into every other data set (where there are results for that search criteria).

OpenAus arms its users with powerful insight into the what, where, how and who of government spending in Australia.

The following table shows the functionality available across the data sets.
The table shows how each project/data set is broken down into the where, who, what and when of spending data in Australia

Tenders Charities Grants Entitlements Budget
Postcode Yes Yes Yes Yes
LGA Yes Yes
Electorate Yes Yes Yes Yes
Name Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
SEIFA Yes Yes
Party Yes Yes Yes
Issue/Purpose Yes
Component Yes Yes
Program Yes Yes
Agency Yes Yes
Portfolio Yes
Government Yes
Date Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

 

OpenAus provides something radically new to Australia: totals and breakdown of funding or listing of organisations by federal electorate. Commonwealth tenders data goes back 25 years. This is the first time this data has been made searchable and calculable by political criteria.

Electorate: Warringah

MP: Tony Abbott

Party: Liberal

Marginality: 65.35

Total value of Commonwealth tender contracts between 1999 – 2016 for Warringah is $921,724,501

 

Total, Average & Number of Contracts by Government

Number Government Average Value Total Value Options
1,108 Abbott $163,096 $180,710,210 HTML/CSV/JSON
4,131 Rudd-Gillard $149,322 $616,850,287 HTML/CSV/JSON
272 Howard $456,485 $124,164,004 HTML/CSV/JSON

 

Open data and the benefits for financial transparency is a new political and information frontier in Australia. Open data is a new concept for Australia and most of the datasets used here (both currently and in the future) are being put to use for the first time here.

OpenAus has just begun and will not survive without the support of the public. There is no short cut to creating a site like this. It requires years of experience dealing with financial transparency issues, good connections with knowledgable experts and an enormous amount of hard work. The site has been built with the support of the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme but will not continue unless adequate financial support is shown. NEIS requires income to be generated for continued payment. Regardless of this, such a large and powerful exercise in political transparency needs to be owned and run by everyday Australians.

You can participate in running OpenAus by making suggestions for future data sets or functionality (or notification of bugs or errors in the data) to the #openaus hashtag. This hashtag has been launched for the purposes of engagement among Australians on the issue of political and financial transparency as it relates to open data (government or other available data).

You can also assert your interest in an open, transparent and honest Australian political system by contributing financially to the project via the contribution page. Be assured your contribution will not go to waste but will be used for the very basics of providing a site like this: internet access, domain names, VPS hosting and living expenses for Rosie who has already been working for 3 years on financial transparency without remuneration. Lack of funds has made progress difficult in the past and now that the site is so big and requires so much more work it will be impossible to continue if I can not support my most basic needs through this project.

Nothing like this exists anywhere else in Australia so it is important that I continue this work which I can not do without your help and support.

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