New System Puts Local Government Spending Under Virtual Microscope
Citizens who want to see exactly what local authorities are doing with their tax money can now do so much more easily thanks to a new online service made available by the finance and economic affairs ministries.
The pilot project, www.riigipilv.ee, was developed in cooperation with the telecommunications company Elion.
"The goal of the service is to bring the state closer to its citizens and to make local government transparent in the entire country," the Finance Ministry said in a statement.
Andrus Jõgi of the ministry's Local Governments Financial Management Department said that, on the basis of Estonian laws, various spending databases have been accessible to the public in the past, but using them was so complicated and time-consuming that the only people who did so were those who needed specific data for their work.
“We wanted to make the data easily accessible to all people, which is why we and Elion created this virtual server-based solution or transferred the financial data of local authorities into a cloud where everyone can view, download, compare and analyze it,” he said.
The Economic Affairs Ministry stressed that the cloud-based nature of the system, which differs from traditional client-server computing, marked a huge step forward in Estonia's development as an IT state.
“Cloud-based information applications are the solutions that currently allow us to create a completely new quality,” said Andrus Aaslaid, a counselor for the ministry. “As far as we know, no other state has yet managed to make the financial status and expenditure of all of its local authorities visible and ready for analysis to such an extent and on such a level. I would like to hope that this is a boost to the state’s e-services on a broader scale,” he said.