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Communities of practice

Communities of practice

Update with latest projects using open data for transparency & accountability

I’ve been working with open data now for nearly a decade.

I have been particularly happy with my projects this year and thought I should make the effort to share them here. The work that I do is supported by public donations however even after so many years this amounts to a very small income.

I most recently relaunched my charities project using the latest ACNC data. This year I included paid/unpaid staff ratio at every level of analysis and broke down the (aggregated) financials by electorate, party & activity. I also visualised revenue sources. I’m about to post an article which looks at various issues in the use of this data wrt transparency & accountability.

Prior to this I extended my political donations data project for the first time adding analysis not only of payments to/from political parties but also their associated entities, campaigners & third parties. I aggregated finances as well as making them searchable, calculating dark money across all these entity types. I also added in data from the lobbyist register and integrated all of these datasets with charities data & the ATO top earners tax transparency dataset. I also introduced categorised entities in the data to aggregate & search data along those lines.

While the tax transparency dataset is one of those drawn on in political donations project (because many top-earners are political donors or have financial relationships with their associated entities, campaigners or third parties - who must declare this), I also created a separate project just for tax data which lists all the top earners which I found (manually as no ABN is included with the AEC data). With this project I charted payments from top earners by the entity type in receipt (party, associated entity, campaigner or third party). With this project I also aggregated franking credits received by individuals & partnerships by electorate & mapped it. I know the new tax data for this has just been released but am currently working on an article about the charity data so haven’t yet updated it.

Last but not least, this year I also re-created my Commonwealth grants project, integrating it with a dataset on Ministries I first created last year in order to allow users to trace grant decisions back to the Minister responsible at time of approval. The projects also allow analysis by electorate, portfolio, program & recipient name. I added in marginality data for the first time to allow analysis of the marginality of the electorates receiving grants by portfolio, Minister and program. The week I launched this is the week the government decided to re-shuffle their Ministry and as there were no grants made yet under the new Ministry there was no reason at that point to add in the new Minister positions. That will be done when I next update the project.

I hope that people find these projects interesting and if you would like to support this kind of work please consider the options available on the site. People can also follow me on Twitter at @info_aus though I do warn you the account is as much personal as it is professional.

Happy long weekend!
Rosie Williams

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I can’t see a more appropriate place to post this but thought I’d link to a recent article of mine on the need to include ABN in open data published by the AEC which I titled, The Missing Piece.

Your task is to solve a puzzle with an infinite number of pieces but you don’t know what the puzzle will look like when it’s done. No one has ever solved this puzzle on this scale before. But it gets worse, apart from having to figure out what you’re actually trying to solve, you don’t even have the pieces for this puzzle. You find some pieces online but some are missing or broken. You spend all your time trying to fix the broken pieces. At times you wonder if the effort will break you or if it is just all too hard…