New way to get the GIST of government spending

29 July 2013

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30 July 2013 | Will Green 

The government has unveiled a new online tool that lifts the lid on Whitehall spending.

The Government Interrogating Spending Tool – known as GIST – gives a breakdown of spending by each government department. 

Cabinet Office minister Chloe Smith said: “We want to do this because it’s part of transparency and accountability. We think that knocks on to achieving further savings, which is clearly very important.”

Previously the data was only published in “clunky spreadsheet form” but the new tool uses clear charts and tables that the public can easily understand. 

The GIST system begins with the last year of data – since new accounting and performance data systems were put in place – and new data is being added all the time.

So far an average of 95 per cent of all department management data is being fed into GIST, with 11 departments providing 100 per cent. 

Smith said: “No government has done this before. This is quite out on a limb. This is a new thing for government and it’s to keep people on their toes.”

GIST is available in beta form at www.gist.cabinetoffice.gov.uk

Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “For too long Whitehall has kept taxpayers in the dark about how their cash is spent, so putting more data online is a huge step forward for transparency.”

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