The Government in numbers – well almost

On 30 July 2013 I read a news item in the ‘Financial Times’ headed ‘Website shows taxpayers where the money is spent’. It said that Chloe Smith, Cabinet Office minister, said that it will allow voters to monitor Government expenditure. It is part of the broader attempt to raise the quality of management information across government.

After two hours research I am no nearer accessing the information. The websites are so confusing I have found it impossible to enter the sites. What have I found out?

GIST is the Government Interrogation Spending Tool which provides a visualised breakdown of Government expenditure for use by the public.

Users will be able to view data visualisations either through an OSCAR hierarchy or QDS hierarchy

OSCAR is the online system for central accounting and reporting and is a financial reporting system used by the Treasury to carry out its financial management functions.

QDS is the quarterly data summary which is a set of data used by the Cabinet office.

It transpires that amounts on OSCAR and QDS differ because the aims are different.

DEL is departmental expenditure limits which are used to control expenditure.

AME is annually managed expenditure which includes departmental expenditure, EU and central government debt interest.

Non-budget spend is expenditure not included in central government data.

GIST is currently in BETA: “We are keen to improve its usability”.

The website says that if you cannot find what you want use a Freedom of Information request.

I can’t find the system at all.

This will help voters monitor to monitor Government expenditure?

Come on Chloe – go and have a long holiday: oh!, you are.

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