Within the scope of openbudgets.eu, a project funded by the European Union’s H2020 research and innovation programme, Open Knowledge Greece (OK Greece) conducted a survey on the availability of open public budgeting data in Greece. Then, our team created an interactive map that allows users to check the scores of their municipality or regional administrative unit. You can visit openbudgets.gr to check out the map.
The Open Budget Index was inspired by Open Budget Survey and the Open Data Index. They both underline the importance of open public data for the promotion of transparency and building public trust. Open budgets in particular, if used properly, have a strong potential in the creation of participatory budget mechanisms.
This survey takes a look at what happens at the local level by examining municipalities and regional units in Greece, a country that struggles with the application of open data law, even though it’s been four years since the adoption of legislation.
In order to measure the existence as well as the quality of the available budgeting data, a number of criteria was set, such as data resources (based on accessibility), license, data format and the existence of budget monitoring tools.
Survey key findings
Based on the survey results, 300 out of the 325 municipalities in Greece do publish some form of budgeting data on one of the official state resources: the document sharing platform Diavgeia, data.gov.gr (the official public data repository) or the municipality official website.
However, the available documents and data vary immensely in format, level of detail and consistency. The majority of the available budgets (81%) are PDF documents. 9 out of 325 municipalities make good use of the official public data repository data.gov.gr, while just 17 offer budget monitoring tools of some kind. In addition, 96% of the available budgeting documents are published under undefined license.
The results for the regional administrative units are similar. All 13 institutions publish budgeting documents but only two units offer machine-readable content and one out of 13 sources is available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.
By conducting the Open Budgets Index Survey, apart from providing Greek citizens with detailed information about the state of open budgeting data in their regions, we also suggest a step-by-step method for open data research. Our approach is based on yes/no questions and basic indicators, such as resource, level of detail and data format, that are easily understandable within the national context.
Looking closely at the survey results, we draw the conclusion that administrative units in Greece are willing to open up their data but there is still lack of understanding of what open data is and how it can benefit not only the citizens but also the administration itself. Thus, this survey is designed in such a way, that allows administrative units to easily read their open budgets profile and recognise the exact steps they need to make in order to open their budgeting data and improve their index score.
Taking this project one step further, we suggest that the solution lies within adopting common prototypes and formats, collectively. Data homogenization might reduce the existing open data costs and allow applications like openbudgets.eu to work effectively for the public benefit.
This survey was conducted as part of Open Knowledge Greece’s commitments within the context of the Third Greek Open Government Partnership Action Plan 2016 – 2018; Commitment 30: Open Data Index for cities and local administrations and Commitment 31: Linked, Open and Participatory Budgets.
Alexandra Ioannou is a Journalism and Mass Media Communications student in Aristotle University Thessaloniki. She's been a member of Open Knowledge Greece since January 2018 and she has contributed on various projects including Open Budgets Index survey. She's specifically interested in data and investigative journalism.