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Outbox receives $19,581 support from Indigo Trust to support Open Government initiatives

Outbox intends to increase the availability of publicly available and fact-checked data to the public for improved service delivery, accountability and decision making.

It is common for individuals to make public statements to issues that are not accurately backed by verifiable facts, often for personal gain. Such statements can often have dire repercussions for individuals who make personal decisions based on the claims made by trusted individuals. This can also negatively influence policy and strategic decisions made at a national level, affecting the entire citizenry.

National elections are often grounds for statements to be made, and false facts are often distributed in order to sway votes to their favour. Voters, who are often unarmed with the necessary data, make their decisions and expectations on these assumptions believing in the pledges made by the same leaders. In turn, leaders who are ultimately put into office rarely fulfil their pledges and often fail to fulfil them by instituting projects that are poorly managed or do not deliver any tangible value at the cost of the public.

In Uganda, elections are held every 5 years, and with the passing of Uganda’s 1995 Referendum that brought multi-party politics to the table, Uganda has held 3 national elections. Each of these elections have been won with a strong majority by the incumbent National Resistance Movement (NRM) party, with each victory constituting an NRM-majority Government bearing a list of promises that, together, form the Government’s 5-year manifesto each year.

Although leaders in public service make promises with the intention of fulfilling them to uplift the lives of Ugandans, the duties and conflicting priorities of Government as a whole make it challenging to keep track on the state of the fulfilment of each of these promises. As such, Government and its representatives often fail to:

  • maintain accountability to the fulfilment of these promises as they are either forgotten or not prioritised;

  • celebrate the success of a partial or completed implementation of these promises due to a failure to match promises as benefits to projects being run by Government;

  • prioritise the list of promises in budgetary sessions in order to meet the expectations of the citizens they represent; and

  • hold to account Government representatives that are directly linked to promises.

The challenges above pose the need for a platform to be developed in partnership with the Government and its representatives to keep track of the promises made while, at the same time, engaging with the public to help track such promises to completion. Government and its representatives also need a platform on which to celebrate the success of fulfilling its pledges to help maintain the trust of the public they serve. There is a need for the public and media to fact check any promises, or discussions regarding the fulfillment of the promises against already verified claims.

In an effort to address these challenges, we are developing the Manifesto Tracker.
 
The Manifesto Tracker will be a web based data management and visualisation platform that seeks to leverage on open data to track electoral commitments and accomplishments by tracking each manifesto against its related project.
 

At its core, the Manifesto Tracker will maintain a list of all Government and individual promises made to the public. Each promise will subsequently be tagged to a Government project or multiple projects that lists the timelines, resources and budget required to realise each project. Each manifesto’s success can, in turn, be measured by the success of each Government project to which it relates.

In addition, this simple model will allow a basic tracking of project resources that can show the effort in completing each manifesto. The budget of the project, can in turn be tied back to the national budget and give the public a better understanding of how the Government is using public resources to achieve its ambitions. Statements made by political leaders can be fact-checked against the project facts that are accurately curated, thereby ensuring that leaders are held accountable to service delivery.

The manifesto tracker will also seek to work with the journalism community to support with the fact-checking of  claims made by Government officials, politicians, or other individuals against the verified progress of promises and projects.

It is in that regard that Indigo Trust has supported Outbox with a grant to support the development of this project.

Finally, we look forward to working with various stakeholders on how we shall use open government to improve service delivery in Uganda. Interested in working on this project as a software developer, crunching data or business analyst or as your research project? Reach out to us

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