Programmers assist members of the House of Representatives

Dozens of programmers and data analysts 'took over' the Central Passageway of the House of Representatives on Friday, 4 October 2019. During this third edition of the Accountability Hack, they came up with open data solutions to assist members of the House in addressing issues pertaining to education funding and medicine prices.

Among the 65 participants were government-employed specialists, self-employed programmers and analysts as well as staff members of data agencies. Ms Chayenne Halvemaan (ministry of Finance) and Elze Ufkes (Netherlands Court of Audit) looked into the funding of education, together with two other members of their team, one of 22 in total. Many members of the House would like to gain more insight into just how exactly schools use the money given to them as a lump sum. "Hopefully a lot of numbers are made public, so that we can interrelate them", Ms Ufkes said midmorning.

Transparent medicine prices

Medicine prices were the other main topic. How can open data help to make medicine prices more transparent? Ms Boukje Schellens and Mr Jan Willem van der Lichte, data scientists working for Tilburg municipality, racked their brain over that one. "A nice side-effect of a hackathon is that one gets to explore in depth a subject totally different from what one usually deals with", they both agreed.

Passionate about helping

The best idea of the day was to be awarded 20.000 euros, earmarked for developing the idea into a ready-to-use tool that will make it easier for members of the House to do their job. Mr Tom Kunzler, assistent-director of the Open State Foundation, one of the organizers of the Accountability Hack, reported a good turnout. More than 60 programmers and data analysts found their way to the House of Representatives for the hackathon. "The participants are very passionate about developing tools that can assist the MPs in doing their work", he said.

Workshops open to everyone

Simultaneously with the Accountability Hack, three workshops took place that were open to everyone. They were intended to raise awareness of the role data can play in investigations and policy improvements, and in clarifying problems. As an example, data journalist Mr Jerry Vermanen explained step by step how to use open data to track down health care millionaires. Investigators Ms Marije van den Berg and Mr Pieter Buisman talked about the accounting for education funds, and a presentation of the Open Data Portal of the House of Representatives showed how e.g. scientists, application developers and other interested parties can make use of the data of the House.

Accountability Hack is an initiative of the House of Representatives, the ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, the ministry of Finance, Statistics Netherlands, the Netherlands Court of Audit and the Open State Foundation.