COINS: the ins and outs

June 15, 2010

It’s been over a week, now, since the government spending recorded in the COINS database was free for everyone to see.

Before COINS was published I’d been looking into the different data gathering processes that ended with the data being stored in COINS. So you can imagine that having the actual COINS data is the final piece in the puzzle to understanding those processes. In short: it is all starting to make more sense.

In the next two blog posts here, I will describe two important processes that involve gathering data to be stored in COINS.

I’ve drawn a rough sketch of the processes in this diagram (click on the image to see more detail):

The two processes are:

  1. The Whole Of Government Accounts data gathering exercise which is performed by a branch of the Treasury. I’ve discovered this is an exercise in aggregating local spending, and avoiding double counting of spending in central government departments.
  2. The estimates and budgeting process which determines the resources departments are allocated.

I’m also writing a much more detailed guide to COINS, after more detailed talks with the very helpful people at HM Treasury, that is published on the Open Knowledge Foundation blog and will be published shortly on


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