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After a Shaky Start, Slovakia's Open Gov't Portal Succeeds With Help from Open Contracts

BY Lisa Goldman | Thursday, November 8 2012

Earlier this year the government of Slovakia launched a portal that was supposed to make all public contracts and invoices available online. But as Sunlight Foundation International Fellow Matej Kurian recounts, there were serious problems from the outset: The site "...was half-baked, missing full-text search, documents preview or space for comments. While the policy produced more data (“transparency,” if you will), it left accountability untouched."

Kurian goes on to detail how Open Contracts "came to the rescue" and turned the portal into a success story.

Open Contracts provides full-text search ability (after the data had been crunched by Tesseract OCR) to sort the data by 12 dimensions such as vendors/contractors, amounts, duration of contracts, or number of pages in the contract that can be recombined to narrow down the search. A user, say a medical supplies vendor, could create an RSS feed and receive notifications when a state-funded hospital buys equipment from its competitor.

The article includes a valuable list of lessons learned from the experience (takeaways) - e.g., the discovery that crowdsourcing is not always an effective means of gathering information.

Click here to read the whole thing.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network for its generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

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In Mexico, A Wiki Makes Corporate Secrets Public

Earlier this year the Latin American NGO Poder launched Quién Es Quién Wiki (Who's Who Wiki), a corporate transparency project more than two years in the making. The hope is that the platform will be the foundation for a citizen-led movement demanding transparency and accountability from businesses in Mexico. Data from Quién Es Quién Wiki is already helping community activists mobilize against foreign companies preparing to mine the mountains of the Sierra Norte de Puebla.

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