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Help us understand how open data can tackle corruption in the UK

Written by Steve Goodrich on Sunday, 7 June 2015

TI-UK is looking at how specific online “social accountability tools” can be used to support the fight against corruption in the UK.  If you have designed such a tool and want to contribute to our research please get in touch.


Within the last five years open data has gone mainstream. Successive UK Governments have expressed their commitment to making public data free to use re-use and redistribute, and have put some measures in place to do this. Innovation and corruption-resources-corruption-resources-education hubs, like the Open Data Institute and the Open Knowledge Foundation are working with a range of organisations and individuals to open-up and make the most of data. Whilst portals like data.gov.uk OpenSpending and OpenCorporates are making mind-boggling amounts of data available for public consumption.

Despite this data bonanza there has been limited research into how open data can be used to tackle corruption in the UK. This is why Transparency International UK are asking developers to help us with new research into how online tools can be used to hold state institutions service providers and officials, including elected representatives, to account.

Earlier this year, TI-UK and its research partners published the findings of a year-long piece of research into how open data can be used to tackle corruption. This provided an overview of how open data can be used to complement other more traditional forms of anti-corruption work such as investigative journalism.

TI-UK are now taking this work further by looking at how specific online “social accountability tools” can be used to support the fight against corruption in the UK. These could be dashboards or portals that could be used to help identify lobbying abuses instances of bribery, undeclared conflicts of interest, the improper use of public funds or insider fraud. They could be tools using the API on the Electoral Commission’s register of political donations csv files from data.gov.uk detailing meetings between interest groups and government ministers or information pulled from ACOBA’s reports on the appointments of former ministers and senior civil servants.

The aim of this work is to find how these tools are being used how effective they are, their limitations and how they could be fully utilised to tackle corruption. During this research we specifically want to understand what motivated people to produce these tools in the first place and what barriers they faced when making them. This new research will help us identify in more detail what governments and other public bodies need to do in order to make more data with anti-corruption potential easier to access, analyse and use.

If you’ve designed one of these tools and want to contribute to this research, we want to hear from you!

Just fill out our online questionnaire (preferably before the start of July) to provide us with some information about your project and the challenges you faced when developing it. We will then select at least one tool for a more in-depth assessment which will explore how users navigate and use the tool.

If you want to find out more about this research, please check our Research Projects webpage and  contact me at steve.goodrich ’at’ transparency.org.uk


Read 1732 times Last modified on Wednesday, 11 November 2015 10:07

Steve Goodrich

Steve is Transparency International UK’s Senior Researcher Officer .

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