OCAX: an online tool to keep public budgets under people’s control

A year ago, the PACD (Spanish Citizen Debt Audit Platform) launched its campaign to fight debt and lack of transparency in the municipalities. The aim was to create citizen observatories to get the budgets under citizens’ control. An online tool has been developed in order to support this task. The tool, OCAX, is totally open source:  any group can download the code and implement it on their website. The code can be changed, there is no need to quote, but it can’t be used for lucrative purpose. Likewise, no logo from any political party or association can be attached to it since it wants to remain as a tool for the citizens.

The web enables any citizen to ask questions about the public budgets to the City Hall, and the people who make the observatory work are in charge of the bureaucracy involved. All the questions are open to the public on the website and answers can be tracked and processed so it can be replicated in other observatories. Furthermore, it also includes a budget analyser which breaks down different incomes and outputs. Some more extra information is provided: who is awarded public works’ contracts, on which issues the money is spent, or any other answers to questions raised by citizens.

The platform is divided in 3 websites:

  • The web with all the information about the observatory project in three steps: how to build a team, how to obtain information from institutions, etc. – (http://ocmunicipal.net)
  • The web to test the tool: anyone can sign in with a user name and try the tool before setting it up for a specific project. (http://demo.ocax.net/site/index).  Up to now, it is translated to several languages, including Spanish, Catalan, English, Portuguese, Italian and Greek.
  • The wiki: contains technical information on how to install the software, broad information about how the web works, and the process to improve the software, among other information (http://ocax.net/doku.php?id=en:index).

For now, the campaign is focused on municipalities as it is the easiest way for citizens to exercise a “social lobby”. However, it could also be useful to present information about other budgets, to help to audit any other institutions. As it is prepared to have a clear overview on the budgets, the observatories are a way to empower people. People can control their politicians and learn how to manage a City Hall at the same time.

Up to the date, some municipalities in Spain are using the tool to audit their city halls: BurgosCastelldefelsGironaTerrassaSant Joan Despí or Badalona. The project has already raised a lot of interest in Catalunya as well as Madrid and is expected to be implemented across the rest of the country.

LINKS

Social Networks 

  • Twitter
    • Accounts @OCMunicipal @auditbcn @auditciudadana
    • Hashtags #ElpuebloAudita, #ElPobleAudita, #OperacioAPM
For more information, questions, support, etc… you can contact: info [at] ocax.net
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