Civio's purpose is to attain real and effective transparency, with a free access for any citizen or organisation to public data. We commit to this task in hopes of contributing to a society built by actively engaged citizens, who can benefit from an evidence-based public debate, and therefore request accountability from institutions. To this end, we develop tools that expose the civic value of data and allow both ourselves and third parties to do research and produce information on public management.
International opening, a bigger public impact and team growth
2015 has been our fourth operating year. We have reached budgetary sustainability one more year, by diversifying our income towards recurring sources and by obtaining international recognition, both of which has allowed us to face new and greater challenges.
In 2015 we have managed eight pro-transparency projects, left two behind and laid the foundations for three new initiatives for 2016. Our team has kept growing as we are developing two strategic fronts for our future: on one hand, we are searching for alliances, funding and public impact; on the other, we are looking to satisfy the growing demand of services, coming mainly from the public sector. We are approaching 2016 with enthusiasm, and a commitment to continue making a deep and decisive impact on this early phase for transparency in Spain.
Our relationship with public administration is transparent and disclosed to the public. Since May 2015 we have informed the public in detail of our lobbying meetings with public policy decision-makers. We have had 19 meetings with various people, including the Ministry of Presidency, the Council of Transparency and Good Governance, among many parties with parliamentary representation and elected officials from the Madrid Regional Parliament. Through cooperation and the close relationships we have developed, we aim to facilitate the implementation of better transparency practices.
We collaborate, for instance, by sharing highly specialized knowledge about our lines of work. Through this method, for the motion of the Ministry of Presidency, we formulated our recommendations for the drafting of the implementing regulations of the Transparency Act, the future operating guide for the law's day-to-day enforcement, which is still waiting for approval. We have also asked for a thorough reform of Spain's 2014-2015 Action Plan for the Open Government Partnership (OGP) during the intermediate self-evaluation done by the Ministry of Presidency.
In terms of transition projects in autonomous communities working towards a more transparent administration, in 2015 we have contributed to improve the drafting of the Transparency Act of Castilla-La Mancha. In addition, in the face of the regional and local elections held on the 24th of May, we shared a set of recommendations aimed at improving transparency and accountability of newly elected governments. These proposals have been publicly adopted by different groups, including the Ciudadanos party in the Madrid Regional Parliament and other smaller political groups.
Since its creation in 2015, we have started a close collaboration with the Council of Transparency and Good Governance, the main body responsible for enforcing the Transparency Act. Along this year Civio has had four meetings with the Council members we've collaborated to develop training projects. This relationship has strengthened in 2016 with the signing of a collaboration protocol.
These efforts for increased public collaboration among all parties within the axes of transparency, accountability and active citizenship remains a priority for 2016.
Objective as foreseen on the 2015 Action Plan:
To strengthen cooperation with Spanish institutions and bodies
In 2015 we have built momentum for our involvement in international and long haul projects, a strategic axis for Civio's growth as an organisation. This year, our international outreach has materialized in two projects: a far-reaching journalistic research based on data (Medicamentalia, about access to drugs in 60 countries) and a tool that responds to a global need (Onodo, which allows users to analyse networks and tell stories with them). We have also laid the foundations for future initiatives that derived from transnational collaboration (such as OpenBudgets, a project to improve budgetary and fiscal transparency in Europe that will have a phased introduction in 2016 and 2017).
In national headlines
In international headlines
Medicamentalia is a 5-month journalistic research project to uncover data on the global access gap to 14 essential drugs in 60 countries (61 since February 2016). It has been published in Spanish and English.
Methodical, accurate journalism to provide answers and context: a data visualization tool allows exploring of over 45,000 information fields about drug prices and around 14,500 information fields about the affordability of these drugs. The guided tour helps the reader to get used to this visual through an interactive narrative. Three long-form stories provide the necessary context regarding pharmaceutical patents, the alternatives put into practice and the smuggling of counterfeit drugs, searching for answers from Ghana to Brazil. 11 videos, four supporting infographics and a photo gallery complete this multimedia research. All the content is adapted for a good reading experience on mobile devices.
Information deserves its name only if it is based on sound facts and data. The cost of drugs, and the lack of transparency around it in particular, calls for a global debate with access to better data and therefore based on evidence. That's why we facilitate the access of information as a service for the people, media and organisations, so they can find relevant data for themselves and within their areas of activities and interests. Our contribution to this debate began in 2015 and will continue into 2016, through our research of the access to vaccination.
In 2015 we have worked on the development of Onodo, a tool that will help any citizen, group or organisation, be it national or international, to analyse, visualise and tell stories with complex relationship networks; applicable to any field or issue. Onodo is a project by Civio in collaboration with Eurecat (formerly know as Barcelona Media Foundation)and financed by CHEST Project and the European Commission in order to foster the development of digital innovations with the potential to simultaneously produce fundamental changes in society.
The project was given the green light at a meeting of the financing consortium in Berlin. Afterwards, in May 2015, Civio and Eurecat organized a workshop with over 20 potential users (from the civil society, public sector, media and individual citizens) in order to learn of their individual needs and adjust the tool to better address them. The feedback received during this workshop and during another one held on Mexico in 2014 motivated a key redesign of the project, adding a narrative layer to emphasis the stories that can be told through nodes and relationships.
The launching of Onodo was originally planned for the end of 2015. Due to a delay of the financing programme, the beta version will be available on the first four months of 2016. At the writing of this report, the front-end was almost finished and it remained to design the data visualization system before launching the beta version for public use.
Objective as foreseen on the 2015 Action Plan:
To raise the international outreach of our brand and projects
Civio is an organisation with a clear mandate: achieving social change by promoting active citizenship and accountable institutions. This mandate is at the core of our journalistic work. By producing relevant information about public management, we enable citizens to make their own decisions and foster institutional accountability. We don't only inform “on” action, we also inform “for” action.
This public service purpose is brought to life in each and every one of Civio's projects. Our coverage of the local and regional elections in March 2015 is a good example of this. We looked into issues that often go unnoticed in mainstream press, such as The political parties remaining mute about their estimated electoral expenses (in Tu Derecho a Saber), 249 majors running for re-election on the 24th of May without reporting on their offices' accounts (in Quién Manda),The vote counting doesn't add up and The PP loses five million in public funding to finance its election campaign (both in El BOE nuestro de cada día). The second article motivated one of the mentioned councils to come forward and try to justify themselves by denying the veracity of the information. At the time this report was written, they still hadn’t sent their accounts to the Court of Auditors.
However, 2015's biggest milestone in this area has been turning this public service information into a book:
Españopoly: cómo hacerse con el poder en España (o al menos entenderlo) (Spainpoly: how to gain power in Spain [or at least understand it]), written by Eva Belmonte and published by Editorial Ariel, is a thoroughly documented journalistic work that aims to make the formal and informal rules of the system public and allow us to play a more active and informed role in public life.
Españopoly has published two print editions (a first run of 3,000 copies in March 2015 and a second one of 1,155 copies in April). Eva presented the book in Madrid and Elche surrounded by friends and supporters and signed copies at Sant Jordi in Barcelona and at Madrid Book Fair. The book has achieved a great reception among readers. In June 2015, we gave a copy signed by Eva as a gift to all our accomplices (recurring donors) who make our work possible with their trust and generosity.
Since 2012, El BOE nuestro de cada día (Our daily Official Gazette) offers the most accurate portrait of Government actions and public administration. In its third year of life, it has grown and become the consolidated reference source on these topics. In 2015 it has received over 300,000 visits, which means almost a 15% increase over the previous year, and more than 4,200 readers receive its contents in their e-mail inboxes.
The articles in this blog, which are under a Creative Commons license, have been republished on media such as La Marea, eldiario.es, El Confidencial, El Español and others, and also quoted as a source by El Mundo, El País, La Vanguardia, La Sexta Noticias, Europa Press and Noticias Cuatro.
With rigour and context, El BOE nuestro de cada día contributes to the public debate about governance among an increasingly large and diverse audience.
Among the most relevant first news of 2015, we have reported on the public subsidies for political parties after the municipal elections (on May the 24th) and the general elections (on December the 20th); the budgetary slippage of the Ministry of Defence, and how the Government granted pardon to the builder who locked in, assaulted and threatened to kill a municipal architect. We also reported on the Government of Melilla intended to award almost half a million euro in institutional advertising directly to three local newspapers. El Faro de Melilla appealed the advertising distribution and in May the contract terms and conditions were cancelled.
Objective as foreseen on the 2015 Action Plan:
To continue our journalistic analysis of the Official Gazette with a follow-up for far-reaching issues
To promote the distribution and republishing of its contents
El Indultómetro (the Pardonmeter), a joint project by Civio and developer Juan Elosua, is the first source of information on the use of the grace of granting royal pardon by Spanish. This website lists and classifies all the royal pardons issued since 1996. Here, any user can search easily and quickly the royal pardons granted by type of crime, compare the yearly data and evaluate the use of royal pardons by different governments.
In February 2015 we updated the database with the royal pardons issued in 2014. We proved one year more that pardon granting is not for exceptional cases (1,47 daily on average) and that social pressure takes effect: 87 pardons were granted in 2014, the lowest number since 1996.
During 2015 10,487 unique users used the tool, which shows a decrease compared to the first two years of project. We have been monitoring the Supreme Court stance on royal pardons closely, as it is one of the few control factors against the Government decisions to stop irregular pardon granting. We have informed of how the Supreme Court overturned the pardon granted to Miguel Ángel Ramírez Alonso, president of the football team UD Las Palmas and owner of a security services company that, in the last few years, has received juicy public contracts. Moreover, thanks to a request for information received through Tu Derecho a Saber, we have been able to know how many people asked for a royal pardon between 2010 and 2014. Data shows that royal pardon petitions have sky-rocketed since 2010, but the number of granted pardons keeps decreasing.
2015 was this project's second full-year running. This project maps public-private relationships in Spain. We keep proving that it's possible to inform the public about the influential spheres between the public and the private sectors in a verifiable and demonstrable way, with open and unambiguous sources, citizen cooperation, good journalism and, the most important thing, with a real, measurable impact.
During this year we have added or updated 705 profiles for people, companies and bodies (which now total over 4,200), 691 relationships proven by official documents (there are over 6,400 in total), 49 new images on our send-a-picture feature and 13 new articles. We have also improved some of the project's features. The main improvement is the development of new thematic pages, so you can know who rules the museums, the El Pilar school, the automotive industry, Bankia or Madrid. We have also introduced some design improvements, such as the option to see the graphs on full screen and expand and contract nodes.
The reach of Quién Manda has hit two milestones in 2015. The first one being an episode of the television programme Salvados from the channel La Sexta dedicated to El Pilar school, "the Spanish Harvard". Eva Belmonte took part in it to help put together an unusual perspective about our elites, while Jordi Évole interviewed the main people involved. The second one was a brief section on the Cadena Ser radio programme A vivir que son dos días, where each week we unravelled the business and family links between some of the better connected people in our country. You can access and listen to all the audio files here.
Objective as foreseen on the 2015 Action Plan:
To publish feature and research articles monthly and to make technical improvements on the platform.
To expand the database with new profiles and proven relationships.
To make an impact on lobby regulation and on the publication of the working schedules of representatives.
Four parties have already published their MPs' schedules in full and most parties already include lobby registry among their proposals. We expand on this information in the advocacy and public impact section.
This initiative (translated as “Where do my taxes go?”) allows any citizen to check the distribution of the general state budgets in a visual, easy and transparent way.
We updated the data in August, when the draft of the General State Budget for 2016 was presented to the Spanish Parliament. A few hours after the Ministry of Finance and Public Administrations published the information, Civio liberated the data in open formats, making it easy for third parties to reuse it (such as the information coverage by El Mundo). ¿Dónde van mis impuestos? can also be used to quickly check the truthfulness of a piece of information or a statement quickly. During the presidential debate previous to the 2015 General Elections, it made possible to make live fact-checking.
¿Dónde van mis impuestos? received 32,846 visits in 2015, a 22% decrease compared to 2014 (the year when we redesigned this tool). However, the average consultation time lasted 16% longer. Items such as “Pensions” and “Public debt” have received 182% and 202% more visits compared to 2014, respectively.
Objective as foreseen on the 2015 Action Plan
To update the application with the General State Budget for 2015 and the draft for 2016
To make an impact asking for budget implementation to be published with the same level of detail than budgets.
We have asked the main political parties to make this pledge and almost every one of them has included improvements on this issue in their programmes.
España en llamas (Spain in flames) is a Civio project, started by developer Juan Elosua and led by Marcos García Rey in the journalistic area in collaboration with Hugo Garrido. In July 2015 we updated the project with new interactive and multimedia information covering the historic period from 2001 through 2013, as this the last year with substantiated data reliable enough to work.
We provided simple explanations for several recent legislative changes and their possible consequences for the management of forest fires. They are new laws on forests, regarding the use of land burned by forest fires and the competencies of forestry agents, and the new Criminal Code, which includes news in the legal fight against arson.
We have also updated the forest fires search application with all the data from 2013, as well as the rest of the interactive and infographic materials. Lastly, we published a story about fires in 2013. In comparison to the former ones, it was a forgiving year but, once more, arson was the cause of the vast majority of the fires.
Objective as foreseen on the 2015 Action Plan:
To update the application with new data
To publish a new research piece
The Escuela Civio (Civio School) initiative aims to share and disseminate the knowledge of this foundation, by gathering useful resources for the practice of data journalism, transparency and open data.
All the resources are open and free. In 2015 we have uploaded two new videos: Improving journalism with Ruby and How to do data journalism: the example of Medicamentalia. The most checked videos and tutorials were Where can I get data? (2,988 views), a Tableau Public workshop (2,599 views) and Preparing data for analysis (2,297 views).
Although we have attempted to work on the consolidation of the learning resources available on our web, the off-line activities of the Civio Foundation prevented us from allocating enough time to implement the necessary improvements for this project.
Objective as foreseen on the 2015 Action Plan:
Update, upkeep and consolidation of the project
"Quién cobra la obra" (Who's paid for the job) is our first approach to a long haul ambition at Civio: to obtain the full radiography of public procurement in Spain. We have started by researching public construction contracts and during 2015 we have published three articles as a brief taste of what's to come: the everyday illegalities of public procurement in Spain, 60% of the ministries' public contracts were awarded without a public tender and a guide on the use of negociado.
OpenBudgets is an European project to improve public spending transparency and access to budgetary data It aims to provide journalists, civil society organisations, NGOs, citizens and public administrations with the tools, the data and the stories they need to promote and improve fiscal transparency.
We will contribute to the journalistic side of the project and to the development of a technological platform to enable cooperation among institutions and citizens on participatory budgets. We participate in this initiative alongside Open Knowledge International, Journalism++, Open Knowledge Greece, the University of Bonn, Fraunhofer IAIS, Open Knowledge Deutschland, Transparency International and the University of Economics of Prague.
Thanks to a Journalism Grant from the European Journalism Centre (EJC), in 2016 we will be able to expand the reach of Medicamentalia.org by researching the access to vaccines. We want to look into the relationship between the immunization levels, the prevalence of the associated illnesses and the price of essential vaccines in different countries. A four-month long research that we will publish by mid-2016.
More to come throughout this year.
This project was born in late 2011, making it possible for anyone to send information requests to any public institution in Spain. Since March 2012, Tu Derecho a Saber (Your Right to Know) has handled over 1,800 information requests, making it possible to reach to around 900 bodies and public administrations in just one click. It has also been at the centre of Civio's and Access Info Europe monitoring work of the transparency of institutions when there was no other way to have access to this data.
The information gathered thanks to this platform (54% of the requests went unanswered in 2012, 57% in 2013 and 42% in 2014) has exposed the true face of institutions when it comes to answering citizen's questions. 390,000 unique users have checked it over this period, and many thousands more have known about the ins and outs of the Transparency Act drafting and the limitations in its text and its implementation through Tu Derecho a Saber's blog.
In 2015 we received 380 information requests aimed to public institutions (a provisional number, since some of them may turn out to be “invalid requests”), which means a 17% increase compared to 2014 (314 information requests). 146 of them, aimed to the General state administration, have been redirected to the Transparency Portal manually by our team, using our own digital certificate. With this effort we aimed to make exercising their right to ask for information over any technical hurdles, possible for every citizen.
Thanks to Tu Derecho a Saber, in 2015 we have known that the public procurement law reform would not be approved during this term; that the requests for royal pardon are on the rise; that the Ministry of Defence has a non-categorised budgetary slippage of 400 million; that the political parties remain mute about their estimated electoral expenses, and what companies where the biggest contractors for the Congress' small contracts.
However, after careful consideration of all the alternatives, in December we alongside Access Info Europe decided to shut down the information request system from Tu Derecho a Saber indefinitely. Throughout 2016 we will put even more pressure to make the information request process simpler for all institutions. Our maximum goal is to be able to send requests and receive answers via e-mail.
Objective as foreseen on the 2015 Action Plan:
To adapt the platform to the new requirements for information requests of the future Transparency Portal. This objective hasn't been met not only due to technical issues but also for administrative reasons.
To manage and redirect the requests sent through the website
To promote and communicate the contents created
DigoDiego (Politwoops) was a project that allowed to check if a member of the Congress retracted and/or erased tweeted statements. The project was active until late July 2015. After nineteen months in operation, we decided to shut it down as we discovered few interesting tweets deleted by members of the Congress, and we needed to allocate more time to priority projects. The new terms and conditions of Twitter's API also brought uncertainty over the viability of this project. We explain our reasons and the lessons learned during the process here.
Objective as foreseen on the 2015 Action Plan:
Update, upkeep and consolidation of the project
Every one of our steps as an organisation (new projects, new relationships with the public sector, journalistic research, training given, etc.) is part of a deliberate effort to achieve social change. To better focus on our priorities, in 2015 we decided to put together a set of recommendations with 11 specific transparency and accountability proposals and to get the main political parties' to pledge to enact them in practice. Working as lobbyist, we had open and public meetings with the representatives of six parties, in order to explain the reasons behind our proposals and explain how to put them into practice in a concrete, viable way. All of them have appeared in its electoral programmes, though not to the same extent. Over 2016, once a government has formed, we will keep pressing the parties to adopt these proposals, in order to establish them as norms.
The electoral programmes are not the only place where our proposals have demonstrated results. Some of our recommendations appear (literally in some cases) in the investiture agreement between the Partido Popular and Ciudadanos to form government in the Community of Madrid. For instance, making all the documents regarding public tender and procurement processes fully accessible, as well as disclosure of the people taking part in each of the public procurement processes. The Guide for publishing the schedules of town councillors of the Madrid City Council has also taken our work into account.
At Civio we promote the regulation of interest groups through our continuous work toward public awareness (within the framework of our project Quién Manda), our meetings with public actors and our recommendations. Additionally, in 2015 we joined a coalition for the ethical regulation of lobbies in Spain, within the framework of the Alter EU network, impulsed in our country by Access Info Europe. The aim is to set international standards that contribute to transparency regarding the activities of interest groups and thereby promote its implementation in Spain as well.
This ongoing advocacy and public impact work has materialized in many of the victories we have achieved in 2015 and that we address at the end of this report.
In 2015, our fourth financial year, we once again delivered a surplus (€ 67,902 approximately, in accounting profits), consolidating the sustainability of the foundation for one more year. The income generated for 2015 implied over twice as much as last year (around € 249,461, when it amounted to € 99,212 that we declared in 2014, following a cash approach), although expenses also escalated (some € 184,670, compared to the € 92,932 expended in the previous year).
In 2015, we have experienced an increase in labor costs (which constituted 75% of the organisation's expenses) in 2015. Civio has become consolidated and grown, as our stable payroll team has added a permanent editor, a service manager as well as one person in charge of partnerships and advocacy (after the person formerly in charge opted out). The team is growing following the requirements of national and European projects, public service provision and our will to do better and more journalism.
Our payment scheme for 2015 is based on three elements:
2015 income (€ 249,461) arose from:
Private donations (€ 21,746, 9% out of total income).
After closing the last day of 2014 with a symbolic and very significant number of 100 collaborators with periodical monthly donations supporting the foundation's activities with their effort, by December, 31st, 2015 we were closing with 207 Civio's collaborators. The income gained from donations is very similar to those from the former years (€ 19,064 for 2014, € 21,746 for 2015). The difference lies in the fact that this year we have not launched any crowdfunding campaign linked to projects. Instead, we combined the efforts and brains of the whole team to prepare a modest agent recruitment campaign in the weeks prior to 2015 Christmas. Using the thinnest budget and totally out of our own resources, haztecomplice.civio.es spread on social networks thanks to active engagement of dozens of donors and supporters, and we made the set goal: to reach over 200 collaborators to support our work on a monthly basis. In December we celebrated our annual agent meeting.
Professional service delivery (€ 67,324, 27% out of total).
Services provided to the public sector, based on very specialised knowledge and aimed at bringing citizens closer to their administration and decisions, have gained wide acceptance during 2015, especially toward the end of the year. This year, we have deployed transparency projects based on the platform ¿Dónde van mis impuestos? (“Where do my taxes go?”) for the local authorities of Móstoles (Madrid) and Rubí (Barcelona), and for the last quarter we have been fostering this line of work. As an outcome of this drive, in 2016 we are providing technical support to a number of governments both local and regional to innovate in matters of transparency. Among these, we find Barcelona, Santiago de Compostela and Castellón de la Plana.
We must add the training taught for public sector professionals to these services (to Castilla y León Government staff) as well as for the media and several Journalism postgraduate programmes. For the third consecutive year, we have provided for consulting services to the BBVA bank Centre for Innovation, by creating content related to our working areas for their website. We have also contributed to mapping stakeholders and influencers within food industry and sugar consumption for Veterinarios sin Fronteras (Vets without Borders).
Institutional support (€ 160,390, 64% out of total income).
These still arrive from outside the country only. In 2015 we were supported by Open Society Foundations in order to actively drive transparency and accountability in Spain, by the Collective enHanced Environment for Social Tasks European programme in order to develop the Onodo platform and be able to launch it during the first half of year 2016, and from the European Journalism Centre, that endowed us with a Journalism Grant in order to extend the Medicamentalia project for the investigation on access to vaccines.
Towards the end of 2015 and throughout 2016, we have summed up our participation in the European Consortium OpenBudgets. Our participation within the project is more prominent throughout this year than in the past, which is also when we will incur the accounting expenses associated with our work.
...a more self-demanding character...
Since the January 1st, 2015 we have abandoned the cash approach and we have started applying accountancy on an accrual basis, which is more suitable for a more established organisation that consolidates and with projects that are constantly growing and expanded throughout various exercises. This allows us to reflect generated income and expenses associated to financed projects in a more coherent and consistent way for every fiscal year.
Having carried out the first external audit on our organization's 2015 accounts, in June of 2016, a voluntary practice to improve and learn —We have decided to present our adjusted accounting once again at the end of July, explaining the modifications derived from the change in our accountability from a cash approach to an accrual approach. Unifying our accounting policies has required the modification of our annual accounts in 2014. Everything is correctly reflected in the accounts that you are able to download from this report.
In the 2014 accounts we found a surplus of 6.279 euros following a cash basis. That is, counting the bills at the time of issuance and the agreements at the time of their signing. To better reflect our accounting situation, in addition to the external audit’s recommendation, we have also translated the benefits from 2014 to 2015. For example, the provision obtained for our Medicamentalia project has been accounted for in full in 2014 (when the financing agreement was signed) rather than in 2015 (when the project was realized), as befits following an accrual basis.
Another example: in our 2015 balance, for the first time, the debtors short and long term have been included, something that did not we account for previously, as it was income committed to within the next year. Short-term debtors (151,048 euros), we can find income that was committed to in 2016 to projects already approved by the European Commission (the provision of CHEST to create Onodo and Openbudgets), the European Journalism Centre (to expand Medicamentalia) and the Open Society Foundations. In long-term debtors (62,593 euros), so far, we only find the European Commission as a debtor within our Openbudgets project, which will extend until 2017.
In addition, this year we have begun to meet the corporate tax as the development activity of our visualization applications, which are aimed at enhancing the government transparency, our application Where Do My Taxes? at local and regional levels, has been an auxiliary economic activity, whose net turnover for the year 2015 has exceeded the 20 by 100 of our Foundation’s total revenues-- a step forward in order to achieve more Independent economic stability.
The result of the audit, best reflects our foundation's transparency, consolidation and financial health, as well as our efforts to increase accountability with the highest level of demand.
...on a foundation for growth
All through 2016 we will go on collaborating with Open Society Foundations in order to develop political advocacy and training projects. During the first half of the year we count on having a high level of activity within the CHEST – Call 2 programme in order to launch Onodo, and in 2017 we will execute our workloads for the OpenBudgets programme, as we have previously explained further.
These past and future endorsements allow us to state that we count on approximately a 60% of our financing guaranteed for 2016. This growing stability has allowed on one hand to widen the team and, on the other, to comply with our 2015 expense budget, according to what we stated on our 2014 Annual Report. The expense scenario for 2016, mainly due to the expansion of our task force and to the foreseen salary and social contribution rise, reaches around € 366,000. This reflects our constant desire to improve and to assign more human and technological resources to our projects. The new hirings as foreseen include our director's paychecks, after four years of unpaid efforts to Civio, as well as a programmer and a journalist, within the terms allowed by the Foundations Authority.
We are committed to our donors and followers, and we are totally devoted to make sure we do not let them down regarding any of our areas of action. We will follow our current lines of work by updating active projects, as well as continuing to surprise everyone with new initiatives as Medicamentalia - Vaccines, Quién cobra la Obra, Onodo and OpenBudgets.
We remind you that our accounting has been public since 2012 and are available here.
Objective as foreseen on the 2015 Action Plan:
Our forecast totalled € 234,000 income and € 204,000 expenses, an increase of our social basis, the provision of highly specialised services in training and consulting, as well as new institutional support.
As part of our strategy to enhance good governance for our organisation, we have taken three steps in 2015:
The Foundation Council has grown thanks to the inclusion of lawyer Javier de la Cueva. His key contributions to fields such as open knowledge, law-technology relations and internet activism are strongly linked to Civio's nature. Javier's endeavours and commitment towards the transformation of many conventions within the relationship between citizens and institutions, the law and technology is publicly notorious and admired. We are proud to count on this person on our side.
We propose that five people who have international profiles, have proven expertise, who share our values and are linked to our goals, to enter the new Civio foundation Advisory Board: Nathaniel Heller (Managing Director at the Results Results for Development Institute, U.S.A.), Víctor Lapuente (Senior Lecturer and Associate Professor at the Quality of Government Institute of Gothenburg University, Sweden), Luis Martín Cabiedes (an investor specialised in technology business at Cabiedes and Partners, Spain), Momi Peralta (coordinator of the Multimedia Development and Data Journalism in the newspaper La Nación, Argentina) and Chris Taggart (an international expert in economic and financial transparency, founder of OpenCorporates, U.K.).
The issue of Civio's first management report, our very own accountability performance is meant for our donors, allies and any citizen interested in knowing both positive and negative aspects of our evolution through that year. Published in May 2015, it had great success and was selected by Compromiso Empresarial magazine among the top ten transparency practices of that year.
Although not as much as we did In 2014, in 2015 we have been sharing our experience in courses, workshops and forums with the public sector, communications conglomerates and social organisations. The continuous increase in our workload, the number of projects and their magnitude explain why we have had a lower level of awareness activity.
One of our purposes for 2015 was to have a taste of distance learning. So we did with an online course for 50 members of the Castilla y León regional government public service staff, that lasted 18 hours and dealt with “Tools for public data processing”.
Another highlight was a workshop to help other social organisations exert their right to access administrative information. Conducted by the team of the Civio foundation, and counting on the collaboration of the Council for Transparency, it counted on the participation of representatives form organisations such as Greenpeace, the Consumers' Association, Medicus Mundi, Save the Children, PorCausa, NoGracias or Fíltrala, among others.
One more year, the team of Civio delivered lessons in the main Spanish postgraduate programmes in journalism: the Masters' degree in Journalism at El País-Madrid Autonomous University School of Journalism, as well as El Mundo Master's degree in Research, Data and Visualization Journalism at Rey Juan Carlos University. We also participated in the journalism congress of Miguel Hernández University at Elche, in a data journalism course for Vocento-Medialab and in two distance workshops for La Rioja International University.
We have conducted two events. FlashHacks-Madrid in March 2015, an day about crowd-scraping promoted by OpenCorporates and Civio in order to set free data from banking institutions into open sources within the project Map the Banks. The second project being Hacking Elections in June, a hackathon on new challenges in the creation, distribution and consumption of electoral information, coordinated with Confidencial, CartoDB, IronHack and Tecnilógica as collaborators. Visit El Confidencial and the Civio website in order to find further information on our projects.
Also, after investigating for Medicamentalia.org, Eva Belmonte was invited to participate in a panel on challenges faced when reporting on development issues during the Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Lillehammer (Norway).
In our aim to share our knowledge, we have participated on a chapter about Quién Manda (Who Rules) (From transparency to lobbying via collaborative power mapping) within the publication “Citizen innovation: collective intelligence for empowerment” by Cibervoluntarios foundation. We have also acted as class tutors for LibreBorme, a final dissertation by Pablo Castellano with the purpose of opening up trade registry data.
In 2015 the European Journalism Centre (EJC) selected a research proposal by Civio among the 15 winners of the sixth round of the Journalism Grants for the third consecutive year, a European programme to support quality journalism on development subjects. This prize is allowing us to extend the reach of our Medicamentalia project in 2016 by researching access to vaccines.
We also were awarded the 2015 iRedes prize in Burgos within the Ibero-American Congress on Social Networks, within the institutional category, for placing technology at the service of active citizenship and transparency.
Civio, represented by our co-founder and president, Jacobo Elosua, obtained one of the prizes granted by the 2015 Global Impact Competition jury in Spain. These are yearly competitions that recognise entrepreneurs with innovative projects who, by relying on technology, endeavour to answer to some of the great global challenges of our days. Hence, Jacobo obtained a grant and was able to follow the postgraduate program by Singularity University in Mountain View, California. This is an interdisciplinary program lasting ten weeks where great world-changing advances in technology are analyzed and studied.
The Spanish members of the Open Knowledge Foundation chapter (OKFN-Spain) selected the Civio project El BOE nuestro de cada día (Our daily Official Gazette) as one of the two winners within the category of the best non-public initiative for transparency. This is a recognition that adds up to the one obtained by our foundation in the 2014 edition.
By the end of 2015, over 9,000 subscribers were regularly receiving Civio's newsletter in their electronic inbox, doubling last year's figure. Every month, an average 112 people subscribed to this publication. After 26 informative mailings and campaigns throughout the year, the opening rate of such newsletters averaged over 33%, getting up to 53% for those who were already our donors or accomplices. Such metrics reflect a high interest, above the average in most social organisations. In addition, over 4,200 people receive by e-mail every new article from El BOE nuestro de cada día, as well as 2,232 more are sent news related specifically with the Tu Derecho a Saber (Your Right to Know) project, amounting to an opening ratio of 33%.
Regarding media exposure, Civio registered approximately 260 impacts in media in 2015, a coverage which revealed a very positive perception and, once again, mainly on digital media. 12% of this coverage took place in international media (which amounted to 2% in 2014), mainly thanks to Medicamentalia. 60% of our impacts hit national media, 17% regional media and 7% local media. In 2015, 27% of our media coverage focused in Civio's general or institutional activity and 73% in our projects.
Concerning international media, we would like to highlight references to Civio in analysis publications such as Spain: Media Start-Ups Struggle, by the European Journalism Observatory, as an example of a breath of fresh air within Spanish journalism, in The Spanish Media are the worst in Europe. These Upstarts are trying to change that, published on The Nation; or in Spain’s Many Indicted Politicians Undercut ‘Red Line’ Against Graft, on The New York Times.
Civio also makes an intensive use of social network tools in order to reach a wider and more diverse audience. In Twitter, Civio's account counted 13,156 followers by the end of year 2015, which meant some 10 new followers per day. Contents disseminated via this medium have registered 2.5 million views, 12.000 clicks in the links spread and 7,500 RTs through the last year. We should add up to this institutional account our 8,000 followers for @tuderechoasaber and over 6,000 followers of @quien_manda.
In Facebook, Civio started 2015 with 5,300 followers and finished having some 6,500 within this social network. On average, every content published throughout the year has reached 2,735 people and has been shared 18 times. In total, these contents received over 7,000 “likes” during 2015. Concerning Youtube, we have uploaded 30 new videos to Civio's channel (most of which make part of Medicamentalia project), which counts 200 subscribers and over 23,500 video views by the end of 2015.
Many are those willing to selflessly help and whose two cents to foster transparency with us are highly appreciated: Felipe Casajús and Javier Ronda from InServer (not the usual e-learning company) threw themselves into our first attempt as online training; Reyes Montiel's help was of great help in approaching political parties for advocacy, and Álvaro Serrano made the political programme analysis before December 20th elections, looking for any reference to our ten proposed commandments; we got clues and recommendations on public work contracts from Asier Andrés, Antonio Almansa and Manuel Acevedo, among many others; Pedro Cano, of Comunica34, helped us by doing a high quality translation into English of our 2014 Annual Report; Jorge Maestre Marín, from El Traductor Invisible, translated into Spanish the Lobbying Disclosure Guidelines published by the Sunlight Foundation; Fabiola Czubaj (form La Nación) helped us understand Argentinian data for Medicamentalia, and Belinda Grasnik (Correctiv!) collected information from Germany for that research; Marta Silvera and Jen Bramley are responsible for fantastic translations of Medicamentalia articles into English; Lucía Méndez and Mauro Entrialgo lovingly supported Eva when she launched Españopoly; the lawyer Rubén Cañizares generously guided us in the process of trademark registry; Diego Cano shared with us his ideas on the product design pipeline; as well as many friends shared images on their social network profiles to spread the campaign to Become an accomplice of Civio's (Antoni, Ana, John, Helen, Alba, Pablo, Stephàne, Reyes, Antonio, Xosé, Pablo, Moisés, Felipe, Fernando...).
As transparency gradually evolves into a practical implementation phase within institutions, organisations such as Civio must make an extra effort to approach and cooperate with the public sector, as well as with the whole institutional tissue. This cooperation, always considered for the middle and long terms, must keep a strategic, reciprocal, concrete and measurable character in order to lead to tangible improvements for citizens.
Together with the scattered regulations that approving many different acts entails, one of the biggest challenges for Spain in 2016 in terms of transparency is the design of rigorous methodologies to assess its implementation. We believe that no system, ranking or quantitative assessment currently fostered can cast a thorough and thoughtful portrait regarding key qualitative factors, such as the completion and veracity of the information actively provided by institutions. In contrast with inaccurate measurements, we propose to perform modest observations but concrete, feasible, assessable and open to the participation of the citizenship.
In our 2014 Annual Report we stated that "Lack of transparency and stillness by authorities always come at a price. When institutions stop replying to requests, citizens become disaffected from transparency, stop seeking information and it entails a serious damage". During 2015 we have been able to verify that placing technical and administrative obstacles between institutions and citizens has an equally high cost in terms of mutual mistrust and disengagement. By the end of 2015, only 3,760 requests for information were processed, far away from those replied to by the United Kingdom or Chile, that amounted over 30,000 during their first year after their respective transparency acts came into force. The OTAI (Oficina de la Transparencia y Acceso a la Información: Office for Transparency and Access to Information), depending on the Ministry of Presidency, has not shared any diagnosis on this situation with the Spanish population.
In Spain, the tissue of organisations (those having stable teams and rigorous methodology) specialized in the field of civic technology is still at a very early stage compared with other countries. It remains necessary to face outward in order to find models, success stories and a strategic vision on transparency and activism around it in the long run. During 2015 we collaborated already with these kind of organisations based in other countries and we are aware of the need to keep our links alive and seek further collaboration in the future, both inside as outside our borders.
The diversification of income sources is becoming decisive for sustainability and growth in an organisation like Civio, that receives no state help. The provision of services, based in specialised knowledge and with a high added value, is a key pillar for such matter. This is why we have strengthened our public sector service line, by improving our knowledge of their needs handsomely and growing as the independent partner-of-choice to help institutions implement a civic approach to their transparency and open government actions. By offering newer and better services, in 2016 we will be able to help the public sector to create real and efficient transparency culture.
International large donors influence a positive boost towards the implementation of better governance practices, as well as they are key to perform transnational scope projects requiring high levels of funding. We want to explore further a line of work consisting of a proactive relationship with large donors and the ability to obtain their support for projects that may not be a priority within their funding programmes, but do correspond to a demonstrable need, making them worthwhile. In 2016 we are doubling our efforts to identify our potential travelling companions, both national and international, willing to bring about positive changes in society.
Work planning demands experience, time and perspective in order to reach high quality standards. Despite filling up the vacancy in our team (our former fellow worker has taken a sabbatical year) and we have brought new talents to other areas of the foundation, we still find hardship for long-term planning in areas such as new personnel hiring, time devoted to active projects and new projects, as well as to expand our funding channels. In order to grow as a foundation in the long run we need to make for better planning according to clearly defined goals.
The day-to-day in a hybrid organization such as Civio —having the features of a media outlet, an activist organisation devoted to its cause and a service provider to the public sector; is putting any standards meant to lead our work to the test. This is why clear and solidary policies, properly outlined procedures and some boundaries are necessary. This is all that is needed to guarantee compliance to the most scrupulous standards of professionalism and to properly manage possible conflicts, both inside and outside the organisation, which may arise from such an unusual nature.
During 2015, two critical decisions were made regarding our portfolio of initiatives: to close indefinitely the projects DigoDiego and Tu Derecho a Saber. Both had become a statement of how hard it can be not only to start a project, but also to bring closure to initiatives that entailed a lot of effort to reach a certain degree of success and outreach. This is why it is an absolute necessity to find the right information and justification in detail regarding such decisions. Truth is that all the arguments lead to this end, in a sincere and critical approach, and with the aim to keep learning. The acknowledgement of achieved advancements, in spite of these other two initiatives staying below the maximum potential we hoped, is also key for collaborators, volunteers, followers and any person having participated in them properly to help them understand the reasons for closing them.
As we already stated on our 2014 report, “Civio's future relies on its accomplices, on our regular donor community. They allow us to plan our labor properly, and free us from depending solely on service provision, winning international contests and/or getting grants. Every donor is different, every donor has priorities and incentives of their own”. Hence, we must prove on a day-to-day basis, in every decision made, out of precision and reliability, that their support is worth the while.
Over 620,000 unique users have used our tools in 2015 in order to have access to better information on public administration and to play a more active part in society, which entails 19% more than the figures from 2014. More and more citizens, organisations, bodies, social movements and public officers of all fields are contributing to the public debate we foster, based upon evidence and free access to data.
We have participated and affected processes for the adaptation to transparency in autonomous community, municipality and sector levels. As a result of our recommendations, the policy support of public access to information has been strengthened and increased with better practices that will benefit thousands of citizens and organisations. Our municipal transparency recommendations have been publicly adopted by several political groups, some of which have government duties.
By the end of 2015, over five and a half million citizens know to which policies every euro from their taxes is assigned, thanks to our actions in mediating the understanding of public budgeting by the administration thanks to Dónde van mis impuestos (Where do my taxes go?). In 2016 we are taking a natural step towards helping public bodies not just to make their budgeting transparent, but also participatory. This way, citizens will be able to express their priorities and translate them to public budgeting in institution s.
Our 11 measure for transparency and accountability have been integrated in the electoral programmes of main parties. If such programmes are complied with, in the next political term, in Congress, there shall be a debate on detailed budget execution, lobby registry and agenda publishing, legislative footprint, transparency in the purchase of medicines as well as the reform of the laws for the Royal Pardon, among other issues. Not only do we demonstrate that the civil society can include measures in their electoral commitments, but that it can be done in a fully transparent way. We will keep a strict surveillance on its accomplishment from the most independent stance.
The civic purpose of our initiatives is fulfilled when we are able to set data free and to achieve social change thanks to them. Our best example is El Indultómetro (the Pardonmeter). After three consecutive years watching the pardons granted, data demonstrated again that the Government is becoming much more careful with the use of this prerogative. At the time of closing this report, in 2015 were granted 73 royal pardons, which implies 17% below the former year, and the lowest since 1996. Social pressure is successful. To this end, we believe that having presented authoritative data in the debate on the use of the royal pardon carries a heavy weight in the number of times it has been granted.
We go on raising the bar for transparency and open data good practice. And we are not the ones to say so. The Open Data Barometer by the World Wide Web Foundation references Civio's work of endowing public data with value, by mentioning the initiatives Tu Derecho a Saber, El BOE nuestro de cada día, Quién Manda, El Indultómetro, Dónde van mis impuestos, DigoDiego and Escuela Civio. Civio's endeavour was also displayed in the Open Data Impact Map by the centre for Open Data Enterprise. Good practices tend to permeate: in April 2015, the Spanish Tax Agency started informing taxpayers for the first time in their revenue tax declaration how their taxes were being used as we have been doing from 2011 via Dónde van mis impuestos.
But our best victory has been to conclude also 2015 with positive balance, a growing and consolidated team, the motivation to face new challenges in 2016 and the confidence to commit to our donors and followers to meet their expectations.