We need to talk about transparency in Indigenous spending

This post was created automatically via an RSS feed and was originally published at https://openaus.net.au/blog/2015/08/21/we-need-to-talk-about-transparency-in-indigenous-spending/

In an earlier post I overviewed the progress being made in improving transparency in Commonwealth grants spending, exemplified (or so I thought) by the publication of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy grants data  at the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet  website.

Indigenous grants used to be administered and published by the Department of Social Services (along with all other grants they had been publicly reporting for years made available by yours truly). The Abbott government decided to take this responsibility away from the Social Services Portfolio and make it their own and along with others, I have been waiting for the grants data to go up on the DPM&C website so that I can use this data to meet the needs of the community:

I was less than impressed upon taking a closer look at the IAS grants reporting at the DPM&C site to realise that I had jumped the gun in assuming they were using the new guideline to improve transparency. As there is no way to download the information as an open data set it looks very much like their interface is actually more likely to be an effort to control the means and results of how this data is interrogated. I immediately contacted the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet and was asked to email their web services to look into this. My email is here:

Congratulations on your searchable database of grants funding for the IAS. I would like to re-use this data as an open data set but can not find any way to download the data set for this purpose.
An example of other agencies doing this is the Department of Industry where you can see at the top of the page the button for download of the data set in XLS  http://www.industry.gov.au/AboutUs/LegalandLegislativeReporting/Grants/Grants-2015/Pages/July-September.aspx
I know of many organisations, citizens and journalists who would like the benefits of having the IAS grants data made available in usable formats and these requests have been made public http://infoaus.net/wp/does-the-data-make-a-difference/
I look forward to being able to use this data-set to meet the needs of the community and would appreciate a speedy response.
Today I received the following response from the web services team:


Thank you for your email.  At the moment the website does not have the function to download the dataset in other formats.  I will submit your suggestion  to our development team  for future consideration and will be happy to let you know if that function ever becomes available.
Last week I launched the chat on hashtag #openaus which provides the opportunity for ongoing public discussion on political and financial transparency. The first week saw me get an overview of the kinds of issues Australians are concerned about with regards to influence and transparency. In response to interest in understanding the geographical spread of government funding, I spent the week mapping grants data which make it much easier to interact with and understand.
 image of mapped grants
Mapping the grants is especially good at showing the spread of funding to remote and rural locations. Given the public interest in the IAS, I am going to make transparency in Indigenous spending the topic of #openaus this week – in particular the 10-11am chat session on Saturday 22 August. I’d like to know your thoughts on Indigenous spending in terms of political and financial transparency topics and get your support for opening up data that pertains to Indigenous people and communities. Please post comments, questions, links and other resources using the hashtag #openaus.
Posted in Benefits of open data, Informing Decision-making, Open Government, Posts from feeds, Saving money, Transparency Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,