Treasury aims to simplify budget data

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 28 Sept 2017
National Treasury partners with civil society organisations to develop an online budget data portal.
National Treasury partners with civil society organisations to develop an online budget data portal.

South African citizens will soon be able to access easier to understand information from government's annual budget presented by finance minister Malusi Gigaba.

National Treasury told ITWeb it is in stage one of the development phase of an online budget data portal, with the first version expected to go live around the tabling of the main budget in February 2018.

According to Treasury, it already publishes extensive budgetary information on its Web site; however, it has observed over time that the use of this data is not as extensive as it could be.

The portal will therefore publish data in a user-friendly format, which should enable more effective information-sharing, analysis and research. In turn, it should support involvement of civil society and the public in the budget process and enable citizens to have informed discussions in different government policy areas, says the government finances managing entity.

"The intention of the online budget data portal project is to provide the data in a more user-friendly format and present a readily comprehensible overview of how public resources are generated and used. Primarily the aim is to improve the use of budget data for understanding government policy and service delivery."

The project, a partnership initiative between Treasury and civil society organisations like Public Service Accountability Monitor, and Mobile Social Accountability and Monitoring, is being developed using a modularised approach to allow for continuous engagements with stakeholders, says Treasury.

The development process of the online portal is said to involve extensive outreach to citizens to determine what stakeholders really want to know about the budget and in what format they find it most useful.

It will be developed only after numerous consultations of what really works for citizens, Treasury points out.

Ultimately, Treasury has envisioned a budget portal that will be a multimedia platform where many data-informed views on budgets can be posted and responded to.

"The portal will be designed based on meeting citizens' needs; it is being built specifically for this purpose... A number of engagements in the form of data quests and hackathons are planned across the country to get citizens' insights and inputs.

"At an appropriate time, there will also be a competition that will be made public, for citizens to propose the name of this online budget data portal. Civil society organisations will lead this activity."