#BetterBudget Dataquest for Sustainable Development + COVID19

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Pursuing inclusiveness, sustainable development and accountability in budgets is paramount, even more so in a world where the pandemic has aggravated poverty levels and inequality. The COVID-19 emergency relief and response packages have shown how government’s spending is crucial for saving lives, jobs and economic prospects. Our efforts must continue to be vigorous and purposeful, but, at the same time, safe. As such, in 2021, the Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency (GIFT) will re-launch its two open data use and engagement initiatives through online and remote platforms. The #BetterBudgetDataquest for Sustainable Development and the Public Infrastructure #DataRallyFromHome (formerly #DataOnTheStreets Rally) will go fully VIRTUAL this year.

Evidence is clear: in order to close feedback loops and create a better culture of accountability, transparency is not enough. It is the demand side, the people, the users, who have the potential, with their energy and active participation, to bring about lasting, trustworthy change, change that will hopefully be accompanied by closer relationships between governments and their people.

It is important to note that government-civil society partnerships are light touch and scalable participation initiatives that enable collaboration in semi-formal flexible settings, providing for dialogue among different stakeholders, that can lead to the achievement of specific objectives related to sustainable development. Examples of incorporation of citizen’s inputs that directly impact the budget cycle are the Citizen Participatory Audit in the Philippines, New Zealand’s Wellbeing Budget and MyBudget Initiative in South Korea. Such partnerships bring together the GIFT agenda on different levels, as they: rely on digital publication tools, including the strategic collection of data towards defined purposes, embrace user-centered publication and open data; encourage the adoption of participation mechanisms, while simultaneously establishing bases for collaboration among stakeholders of different sectors; and are strengthened through peer-learning at the international level, as practitioners from civil society and government in different countries co-create the mechanisms and share their specific focus, methods and lessons learned.

With that in mind and considering the rich experiences of the rallies and data quests held since 2016, GIFT is pleased to call on government-civil society partnerships around the world to join our advocacy for inclusiveness and better budgets through public participation initiatives. In 2021, we invite you to host a rally and/or a data quest during the first semester of the year, preferably aligning its launch with the International Open Data Day on March 6th March, or with the Open Government Week from 17 to 21 May, for maximum international resonance.
#BetterBudget Dataquest for Sustainable Development + COVID19
What is it?

The #BetterBudgetDataquest is an open data expedition, in which the government and civil society organizations call on the population to explore open public spending data and relate it to contextual information and any additional data they may have. They do this to assess, and then present their findings on the progress of the implementation of budget allocations towards the achievement of budgetary goals. See examples from previous years here.

This year’s topics were selected based on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), considering the critical role of the budget in achieving them. Three specific categories were selected owing to their particular bearing in the contemporary debate. The Fiscal Openness in Emergency Response related to COVID19 was then also added, due to its current relevance.
Please refer to our Fiscal Data for Emergency Response: Guide for COVID-19 for extensive information on this regard.
Objectives of the #BetterBudget Dataquest

As the name suggests, this initiative is an avenue to find new analysis on specific topics and innovative solutions to improve knowledge and practices in budget allocations and their implementation. In addition, the process encourages open data publishers and custodians to generate budget literacy and data use capacities. It also serves as an opportunity for them to observe the challenges that users can face while using the data, which they can use to improve their publication and data-sharing strategies.

Target Audience

The Dataquest is aimed at an audience with intermediate to advanced knowledge in data science, economics or journalism (or similar).

 What do you need to host your own  #BetterBudget Dataquest
  • Open fiscal data on expenditures for the specific area/topic of interest, 
  • If available, it is best to have the data paired with visualizations,
  • A government and/or a civil society convener. The initiative can be initiated from either side, what is important is that work is done collaboratively,
  • A team in charge of dissemination and answering participant questions, 
  • If you are a government, it is very important that you devise a mechanism to follow-up on participants results, so that this collective effort is purposeful and impactful,
  • Take into account and mainstream as many of GIFT’s Public Participation Principles in Fiscal Policies in your Dataquest design and implementation,
  • Let us know that you want to host a Dataquest through sending an email to Aura Martinez at [email protected].

How has this worked in the past? 

We’ve had such amazing results in previous editions, with impactful projects still rolling out in many of the participant countries. Please see our last edition post.

Any questions or further information? 

Please contact Aura Martínez at [email protected], we are happy to help you navigate this effort, build coalitions and offer technical support.

This project is supported by the OGP Multi-Donor Trust Fund.


As in past editions, we will be partnering with members of our network to further build enthusiasm by rewarding our global winning teams.