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Using Multi-Surface Environments to Understand Budgetary Data

This is a completed project.


With a GDP of about $2.253 trillion in 2012 and with a population of almost 200 million people, Brazil is a country marked by social differences. Corruption costs the country about $40 billion every year, and since June 06, 2013 the country has seen a wave of protests against corruption. The main grievances are related to the government expenditures: the FIFA 2014 World Cup has cost about $13 billion so far and the 2016 Olympic Games are initially estimated to cost about $14.4 billion, yet there aren’t enough physicians or suitable infrastructure in public hospitals. The same situation is seen in most public schools – underpaid teachers, a lack of basic infrastructure, and violence is also present. According to the federal government, more than $11 billion was invested in transportation in 2013, but what is perceived by the population is a low quality and inefficient system. The result of this situation can be seen in Brazil’s Corruption Perception Index, an index of government corruption maintained by Transparency International. In 2012, the country scored 43 out of 100 (lower scores indicating higher perceived corruption). Brazil’s public sector was ranked 69th least corrupt out of 176 countries in the world.

In order to mitigate corruption and increase citizen engagement, since 2004 the Brazilian federal government has provided data related to federal expenditures through its transparency portal ( Also, the federal government recommends that every state and city government make budgetary information available through their own portals as well. The data is made available as CSV (comma-separated value) files, which are updated regularly and which can be more than one million lines long. Each line represents one expenditure and includes details such as origin, destination, amount, and government official responsible, as seen on figure below. While this budgetary openness is valuable, Brazil’s transparency portal only provides these raw files. The extraction of meaningful information from them is left to others.

Budgetary dataset sample

This project proposes a multi-surface system for graphical visualization and manipulation of budgetary information from transparency portals. The interaction provided by the system will allow the user to investigate the flow of money between governmental entities, and to show discrepancies between what was declared as transferred by higher entities (such as federal or state governments), and what was received by lower entities (such as municipal governments).