Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What is the aim and objective of Open Budgets India Portal?
Open Budgets India aims to provide easily understandable budget information from the Union, State and Local Governments of India in a timely manner. It aims to do this by facilitating the availability of machine readable budget data, common metadata vocabulary and visualisations.
2. What is the scope of Open Budgets India?
At present, the portal Open Budgets India provides budget data for three different tiers of government under four separate heads: Combined Union and State Budgets, Union Budgets, State Budgets and Municipal Corporation Budgets. Given below is the list of different types of budget data available on the portal:
Indian Public Finance Statistics published by the Ministry of Finance covering Combined Union and State Budgets. It provides time-series data of several receipts and expenditure indicators for 10 years or more.
Union Budget documents from 1996-97 onwards covering:
♦ Budget at a Glance
♦ Expenditure Budget (Volume II)
♦ Receipts Budget
State Budget availability varies across states. Presently the portal covers 26 states and the National Capital Territory of Delhi. The states of Goa, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur do not publish their budgets online.
Open Budgets India also provides budget documents of 23 Municipal Corporations currently. We will endeavour to increase its coverage over time.
According to Jonathan Gray (2015), “open budget data appears to refer to legal and technical aspects of information disclosure as an enabler of a range of different potential outcomes, rather than referring to how this information is put to work per se”.
The focus of Open Budgets India is to provide machine readable and accessible budget information. Accessibility can be facilitated by defining a simple yet intuitive metadata vocabulary. This assists in providing explanations for both the functional and administrative classification of budgetary information and for fund flows in India.
3. What is metadata? Why is it important?
Metadata describes a particular data-set and performs a function similar to that of a ‘catalogue card’ in a library. It enables search-ability of data-sets or data within a repository of data like Open Budgets India. In the absence of a common budget metadata standard, it becomes difficult to arrange, classify, search or even compare budget data across tiers of government and also across years.
4. How can you find the data you are looking for?
To search for a data-set, the search bar on the homepage can be made use of. Additionally, the landing page of the search will have filters such as ‘Tiers of Government’ and ‘Sectors’ to further refine the search.
5. How is the data classified?
Datasets are classified by two major filters:
Tiers of Government’ namely, Combined Union and State Budgets, Union Budgets, State Budgets and Municipal Corporation Budgets;
‘Sectors’ like Agriculture & Allied Activities, Drinking Water & Sanitation, Environment & Forests, Food, Civil Supplies & Co-operation, Health, Housing & Urban Development, Power & Energy, Public Works, Rural Development & Panchayati Raj Institutions, Social Justice and Water Resources & Irrigation.
6. What are the formats in which datasets are published?
Most data-sets published by the government are in the form of hard copies or PDFs, with a few exceptions like Sikkim and Nagaland providing data in spreadsheets as well. Open Budgets India provides Union Budget data in machine readable Comma Separated Value (CSV) files, PDFs and spreadsheets.
The portal also provides budget documents in CSV formats for the states of Karnataka and Sikkim. For all the 26 states and NCT of Delhi which provide the budget documents online, the files are presently available in PDFs.
Budget data for 23 Municipal Corporation are available on the Portal in PDFs, CSVs and spreadsheets compiled from budget documents 2014-15 onwards.
7. Under what license are datasets published?
The contents of Open Budgets India (unless otherwise specified) are under the licensing agreement Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC-BY). This form of licensing allows the users to copy, distribute, display, and arrive at analyses using Open Budgets India contents only when the licensor or Open Budgets India is given credit or attributed by any and every such user. Commercial use of Open Budgets India content is also permitted but with due attribution given to the portal.
The portal contains PDF data files for different tiers of government. These PDF documents from different sources come under the same license agreements as specified in the original source websites from where they have been obtained.
8. Which are the organisations involved in the development of the portal Open Budgets India?
The intiative is that of Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA), New Delhi and the process of developing the portla is co-ordinated by a team at CBGA with the help of DataKind, Bangalore, Macromoney Research Initiative Pvt. Ltd., Pathey Budget Centre, Gujarat, Budge Analysis Rajasthan Centre (BARC), Jaipur and National Centre for Advocacy Studies (NCAS), Pune.
9. Who are the funders?
Financial support for developing the portal has been provided by Omidyar Network, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, IDRC – Think Tank Initiative and National Foundation for India.
10. Whom to contact for data-related queries?
Write to us at –
11. What can Finance Departments of Union, State and Local Bodies do to ensure Open Budget Data standards?
The following points are essential to implement Open Budget Data standards:
Budget data should be published in machine readable formats like CSV (Comma separated values), XLS (Spread sheet – Excel), and/or ODS (Open Document Formats for Spreadsheets). This is in accordance to the standards set by National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP). Publishing data in such formats can combat the dual problem of lack of accessibility and machine readability of budgetary data at all tiers of government.
District level budget information needs to be pro-actively disclosed by the relevant government entities like the District Treasuries, Offices of the Accountants General in the States and the State Finance Departments. Publishing such information in a timely and accessible manner can strengthen monitoring of public expenditure as well as engagement of people with budgetary processes. That, in turn, can lead to significant improvements in the manner in which such expenditures are incurred.
There is a need to standardise metadata vocabulary for budget data throughout the country and publish them.
Budget documents should be made available in both local language and English to encourage the engagement of a wider group of people with budgetary processes.
12. Who can be a Data Contributor to the portal?
Data contributors to the portal can be government officials, civil society actors/organisations, technologists and others who can collate budget data at any of the different tiers of government.
Data contributors can email us with their inputs to firstname.lastname@example.org or can upload machine readable files to CBGA’s Github at https://github.com/cbgaindia.