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Government to launch searchable database of budget projects; The Japan project aims to increase transparency and efficiency

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Prime Minister’s Office in Tokyo

The government will create an easily searchable database of all the country’s roughly 5,000 budget projects and make the information publicly available on a website as early as September, a move aimed at increasing transparency of these projects.

Each project is assigned a unique number, making it easy for the public to check details such as where funding is channeled and how much of the budget has been spent. This greater transparency will make it easier to analyze data and compare projects with previous ones, which the government hopes will reduce waste and improve the efficiency of budget spending.

In the budget year that started on April 1, the Headquarters of the Cabinet for the Promotion of Administrative Reforms started building a database for administrative project assessment forms, which checks for budget waste. Each ministry and agency completes a summary form for each project, which includes details such as the name of the project, an overview, the budget amount and how much has been spent. The database will include every project completed since FY2021.

The information on the new website will be based on this database, which the government wants to expand with a search function. Users can search for the desired project by entering keywords or budget size. The government is also considering using charts to visually display the budget expenditure of individual ministries, agencies and departments responsible for projects.

Until now, ministries and agencies have published summary sheets on their websites every budget year with an overview of all their budget projects. The Administrative Reform Headquarters also released a list of these projects using the Excel spreadsheet program. However, it was difficult to get a handle on ongoing projects with both methods, with some search attempts coming up empty due to text differences, such as certain items being written in full-width characters while others were written in half-width characters.

To eliminate these problems, a uniform writing standard will be adopted in preparation for the database launch, and each project will be assigned a unique six-digit number. This number will not change even if a project continues for more than one financial year. As a result, a project can be searched by number even if it has been renamed, and users can easily detect any changes that occur over a period of years.

The government will continue with evidence-based policymaking and will also promote greater transparency in budget projects. It is expected that the visualization of similar projects implemented by multiple ministries and agencies will lead to more efficient budget composition and implementation.

Under the government’s conventional budget compilation process, each ministry and agency submits appropriation requests by the end of August each year. The Ministry of Finance then examines these requests and the cabinet approves the budget at the end of the year. By making the website available in September, the government wants to include the figures in the budget preparation for the 2025 budget year, which will start in April next year.

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