The "Open Budget Initiative” aims to find a way to inform local communities about municipal budgets, and tell citizens how they can influence authorities’ decisions about the allocation of public funds.
Three cities, Ivano-Frankivsk, Zhytomyr and Ternopil, joined the initiative and hosted workshops in April 2014. Each municipality has a relevant section on their website dedicated to the budget. The financial departments present budgets in Excel file, sometimes with explanatory notes and sometimes with graphs (see an example here: http://bit.ly/1uTqG50). Though the information is accessible, there are many ways to make it look more user-friendly.
The workshops held by Internews in collaboration with UNDP introduced budgeting principles, data interpretation skills and on-line visualization tools. The participants created visualizations of their municipality budget using an online tool. Six teams developed prototypes to make the process easy and seamless. Observing the technological solutions that they created, it emerged that all of them are very similar, almost the same, with some minor changes.
Therefore Internews and UNDP Ukraine decided to develop one single open sourced tool.
The platform will consist of three modules:
• A visualization of city budget revenues and expenditures (categories and sub-categories);
• The option to search budget transactions directly on the transactions lists;
• A budget interactive calendar (with individual notifications so that citizens can become more involved in the process and track it in real time).
The platform will be built as a modular approach so that each municipality team will be able to decide on its own whether they want all three parts of the platform or just one.
The beta version of the platform will be online in the end of July 2014. Three participating municipalities will be pioneering the system in their municipality before the platform is open to everyone. The financial departments of those cities will receive on-site trainings and support from the developers of the platform to allow them to use it and understand it fully.
Stay tuned, as we will share the beta version here!