Tuesday, September 28, 2010

LobbyLens seeking funding - open government outside the public sector

I believe that one of the major shortcomings in Australia is the lack of financial support outside the public sector for open government initiatives.

The UK has the Hansard Society, the US has the Sunlight Foundation - but what does Australia have?

Granted there is the embryonic OpenAustralia Foundation, a registered charity devoted to open government. However overall it appears to me that Australia doesn't provide the level of financial support that we see for organisations with similar transparency goals in other mature democracies.

LobbyLens, one of the applications developed for the Gov 2.0 Taskforce's Mashup Australia Competition last year, is seeking $148,000 in funding to turn it into a full-blown, maintained service supporting open government in Australia.

In Club Troppo, the post Life for LobbyLens? says that Margaret Simons, freelance journalist, board member of Crikey and driving force behind the Swinburne University Public Interest Journalism Foundation has taken on revamping LobbyLens and making it publicly available through the Public Interest Journalism Foundation.

LobbyLens, which was built in less than 24 hours during Govhack in 2009, uses 12 separate publicly available databases to provide a picture of the connections between lobbyists, ministers, departments and successful tenderers. It offers a unique view on the lobbying of Australian government that is useful for both journalists and interested citizens.

The tool is also of interest to public servants who need to understand the connections between organisations for their decision-making processes.

3 comments:

  1. I'm a big fan of OpenAustralia - who needs (much) funding when you, as a software engineer, can contribute patches?

    I'm also always looking at how my day job can contribute back - often, we use things like Planning Alerts data to enhance our commercial users' experience; so it feels right to give back.

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  2. Actually, speaking of which, want to pimp the OpenAustralia planning alerts effort? Volunteers would be more welcome than funding

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  3. I'm also always looking at how my day job can contribute back - often, we use things like Planning Alerts data to enhance our commercial users' experience; so it feels right to give back.

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