Data will spark transparency in government spending

Transparency in government spending can benefit enormously from a wider use of open data. In future years, more advanced analytics, such as data and text mining, will provide new in depth and real-time insights into government performance. This was the key message in the speech by Ellen van Schoten, Secretary-General of the Netherlands Court of Audit, at the United Nations / INTOSAI Symposium in Vienna. The central subject of this symposium, which was held on May 30 and May 31, was digitalization, open data and data mining.

Ellen van Schoten: ‘We live in an exciting time. The digital revolution is changing the world we live in profoundly and this brings opportunities and challenges to us auditors. As the Netherlands Court of Audit we see three future developments that will further influence our work. First, more and better data will make it possible to make predictive analyses, thereby making it better possible to turn knowledge into action. Second, data will be more real time, making it possible to better synchronise timing with action. And finally, we will do more together with others. Co-creation between us, the government, Parliament, and the civil society, such as in our annual Accountability Hack, is necessary to increase public accountability and, ultimately, the public value of Supreme Audit Institutions.’


At the UN/INTOSAI symposium the Secretary-General of the Netherlands Court of Audit also underlined the challenges that come with working with data. ‘The most important challenge is respecting the privacy of taxpayers. A great deal of the data that government holds on us, contains privacy sensitive information. Other challenges are related to validity and reliability of data. If you work with data coming from different sources, you quickly realise that they differ in terminology and interpretation. Standardisation of simple things would already be very helpful.’