BudgIT, a foremost civic-tech organisation leading the advocacy for fiscal transparency and accountability in Nigeria, has launched govspend.ng, a visual platform that provides citizens, CSOs, the media and stakeholders access to simplified data from the Federal Government’s Open Treasury Portal.
Recall that in December 2019, the Federal Government launched the Open Treasury Portal to increase transparency and accountability in government spending. The portal provides a space for collating data by all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on budget implementation financial records and transactions above the threshold of N5 million by MDAs and N10 million by the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation. While the platform is innovative and commendable, much work is still needed to ensure that the portal achieves its purpose of improving fiscal transparency in Nigeria, especially in navigation and usability for the public.
While speaking about the launch, Gabriel Okeowo, BudgIT’s CEO, reiterated BudgIT’s objective for the govspend.ng platform. “The Federal Government has done a great job in ensuring that the government’s daily spendings are in the public domain. However, data on the portal are mostly in non-machine readable formats and not downloadable. We developed the govspend.ng portal to rectify this issue” Said Okeowo.
While the Open Treasury portal provides public access to collated data on government spendings at the federal level and for MDAs, govspend.ng simplifies and visualises treasury reports uploaded on the portal for citizens and civil society organisations to access, monitor and understand Federal Government’s real-time expenditure.
The portal also highlights anomalies that BudgIT discovered on the open treasury website, including payments made to multiple beneficiaries, payments without descriptions, payments made to personal accounts and payments with incomplete information.
“This platform is useful for everyone. Citizens can access information on companies that have been awarded public contracts and amounts paid by MDAs to such companies. At the same time, CSOs can build conversations around government spendings based on simplified data uploaded on the website. We also hope the media would leverage information on govspend.ng for advocacy and investigative journalism,” said Damilola Ogundipe, BudgIT’s Communications Lead.
We, therefore, urge citizens, CSOs and the media to ensure that they leverage this portal for demanding transparency and accountability from the government on the usage of public funds. It is also our hope that faultlines on the open treasury portal will be standardised by the government.