|A Budget for the People|
|Written by Ruby Ong|
SHATIL is proud to announce the beta launch of The Open Budget, a new web-based initiative that will allow anyone and everyone to see and search through different components of Israel's national budget. It is aimed at activists, organizations, students and researchers who now have easy access to the budget for purposes of monitoring, developing projects and advancing social change.
"The Open Budget is one more significant tool in the arsenal of those working for a better society," said Eran Klein, the SHATIL budget expert who is among the project's initiators.
The Open Budget site (in Hebrew) presents information for multiple years both numerically and with colorful visual aids. Its open source format enables users to develop applications to enhance it.
Led by Workshop for Public Knowledge members Adam Kariv, Ofri Raviv and Benny Daon, a SHATIL Economic and Social Policy Shapers Fellow, the project began at SHATIL's initiative at a weekend session of the Workshop last summer. It received a major push forward after some of those involved encountered only frustration when attempting to discern how much the State spends on its firefighting authority following the tragic Carmel Forest fire.
Like the All Rights initiative reported on December 18, The Open Budget makes the connection between technology, public needs and the critical importance of transparency. It is a further attempt to develop and implement tools of participatory democracy.
Among SHATIL's partners in promoting state budget transparency are the School of Government and Policy at Tel Aviv University; the Movement for Freedom of Information; the Adva Center; Transparency International – Israel and others. Minister of Improvement of Government Services Michael Eitan is a critical supporter of and contributor to the initiative and aided in its positioning in a government portal.
The system was introduced to the public at a bloggers' conference at the Knesset in mid March. The large number of website visits so far is proof of both interest and need.