Supported by the International Visegrad Fund and the Government of the Netherlands, the international conference “Civic Participation, Data Visualization and Local Government” has taken place on October 26-28 in Gyumri,
hosted by the think tank Compass Research, Training, and Consultancy Center.
Experts of four countries’ organizations – the Czech Republic (CETA, Centre for Economic and Market Analysis), Slovakia (INEKO, Institute for Economic and Social Reforms), Hungary (Budapest Institute), and Armenia (Compass) – have shared their knowledge about challenges and lessons in budget visualisation practices.The workshop delivered presentations and exchange with 20 representatives of Armenian NGOs, the Ministry of Finance of Armenia, Regional Government of Shirak province and Gyumri municipality.
The focus of the conference was on budgeting and on challenges of budget visualisation. Conference participants have assessed the question, how data visualization can facilitate monitoring budget spendings, increasing local government’s efficiency and motivating citizens to participate in public decision making
Part of the conference’s agenda was a visit at the Governor’s office of Shirak province in Gyumri. The governor Arthur Khachatryan welcomed all conference participants and answered questions. He pointed out the importance of the conference by referring to the upcoming presentation of local budget data to the national assembly: “Last time we had only some numbers to present. So, what we need is to make data more understandable.”
Not only is data visualization important on the government level but also for civic participation. The way taxes are used influences the motivation of citizens. Arthur Khachatryan expressed this need for transparency of budget spendings: “Where does the money come from and where does it go?”
The discussions led to the conclusion that overseeing local budget is a cornerstone in local democracy development in order to make informed decisions on both sides, government and citizens.
The conference participants have agreed to continue their collaboration in the project on “Civic Participation, Data Visualization and Local Government”. The main guidelines of this conference’s results for data visualisation, civic participation and local government will shortly be presented to the public in a and will be available as download on our website and other sources. The guidelines should be useful for CSO representatives, state and local government bodies and other interested parties.