Today, the UK government published its spending items over £25,000. From now on, every month you’ll be able to see just what each central government department spent, with whom, and when.
Exciting stuff – the current government came to power promising a new era of open data, and this is probably its most significant release so far. The papers today are full of scandalous tales of £170,000 on bottled mineral water, but the real stories are still buried deep in the data.
Here at Where Does My Money Go, we were lucky enough to be given early access to the data. Rufus and I have spent a few days loading it into our data store, and we’ve made 150 raw CSV files and 200,000 spending items into something you can search and explore online.
A map of government spending
So what can you do with the data store?
Firstly, you can simply search it – here’s all payments made to IT supplier Atos Origin, for example. The data begins on 12th May 2010, so we learn that since then, 613 separate payments have been made.
On search results, we calculate the total spending for those results, draw atimeline of payments, and show which departments spent most.
Since outsourcing is clearly the business to be in, let’s check out Capita:
Capita has received a remarkable £3.35 billion, just in the five months since May 2010! (To put this in context, we know from our spending visualizations that we spent £5 billion on primary education in the whole of 2009.)
We’ve also created an individual page for each spending item, showing all the information we have about it from the files released today. The Capita figures include a huge single payment of more than £600 million, so let’s check that out.
Ah, pensions. As you can see, we’ve added the ability to make one-click Freedom of Information requests about individual items. If you click the button, it’ll take you straight to a page on WhatDoTheyKnow, pre-populated with all the information you need to make an FOI request.
That’s because spending items by themselves don’t always tell the whole story. This isn’t the gold itself: it’s just a map of where the gold might be.
Here be dragons
This is genuinely exciting data, and it can’t have been an easy task for the Cabinet Office to get it out of departments – we’re thrilled to have it. Read more »