Consultation on 'Opening Up Access to Budget Data in India' 27 January, 2017

Increasingly, people across the country are keen to understand and participate meaningfully in discussions on government budgets. But, the limited availability of relevant and accessible information on budgets at different levels has been a hindrance in this regard. In this context, CBGA is striving to strengthen the discourse and demand for availability of all budget information in the public domain in a timely and accessible manner, at all levels of government in the country.

As part of the efforts in this sphere, CBGA, in collaboration with a number of other organisations, has developed - - an Open Data Portal on Budgets in India. The portal - Open Budgets India (OBI) - is meant to be a comprehensive and user-friendly open data portal, which can facilitate free, easy and timely access to relevant data on budgets.

The portal provides budget information of different tiers of government in India (Union Budget, State Budgets, and Budgets of several Municipal Corporations across the country) in accessible and open (non-proprietary) formats. The four major features of the portal, as of now (in the beta version), are:

- Budget documents (i.e. the original PDF documents);

- Machine Readable Datasets (for those budget documents, where it was technically feasible to prepare machine readable datasets);

- Visualizations (or infographics) generated from the machine readable datasets; and

- Budget basics (for greater familiarity with budget concepts, processes and documents).

This is an on-going project; in the coming months, we will work towards expanding the coverage of budget data available on the portal and present a greater proportion of the data in machine readable formats (i.e. CSVs and MS-Excel, instead of only PDFs). Moreover, we will also be adding a database for facilitating inter-State comparability of budget data across years.

However, we felt it is necessary to carry out this expansion as an incremental, public process. Hence, we would like to share the beta version of the portal with some of the important potential users and seek feedback and suggestions for improving our efforts.

We have presented the beta version of the portal in this Consultation. Also, there was a Panel Discussion with experts on what governemnt authorities and civil society organisations pursue, in the coming years, so as to ensure that people get free, easy and timely access to relevant budget data at various levels of government.


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