Fundación Ciudadana Civio

Annual report 2016

At Civio (Fundación Ciudadana Civio: Civio Citizen Foundation) we demand accountability from public institutions, and with this report, we lead by way of example. Here, you will find detailed information about everything we have done over the past year, what worked and what didn't. This is our 3rd Annual Report (the 2014 and 2015 reports are also accessible), an exercise we undertake each year with enthusiasm, honesty and a critical eye in order to maintain the trust of our many supporters and gain that of more people every day.

The Civio team.

Transparency. Accessible data. Journalism. Technology.

Civio works to achieve tangible, effective transparency, with free access to public data for any citizen or organization. We want to help establish a society built on an active, participatory citizenship, which benefits from evidence-based public debate and demands accountability of its institutions. To achieve this, we provide public service journalism on socially relevant topics, we develop tools to allow citizens easy access to public data, and we endeavor to drive cultural and legislative change within institutions.

2016, in brief

International recognition and increased public engagement

2016 is our 5th year of activity. For yet another year, we have achieved financial sustainability as an organization, striving to consolidate the model of diversified revenue streams implemented in previous financial years.

In 2016, we have surprised the world with the quality, innovation and global reach of our investigative reports. One of these, Medicamentalia, was awarded two of the most important accolades in international journalism, a matter of particular pride and importance to a small organization such as ours which reports from the sidelines of the mainstream media. On a national level, our colleague Miguel Ángel Gavilanes, a journalist on the Civio team, received the Best Young Journalist of the Yearaward from the Madrid Press Association (APM).

Furthermore, we launched a new project, ¿Quién cobra la obra?, (Who gets paid for the work? in English), an in-depth investigation into contracts for public works, which analyzes the role of the construction companies that have been awarded the biggest contracts, and their links to the public sector. We also continued to generate public interest pieces on the decisions that affect us all on a daily basis.

In 2016 we have managed 10 projects, 3 of international scope. Our team has grown with new employees and we have made special efforts to seek new and better partnerships for the future. We have provided technical support to many of the country's main municipalities and autonomous communities and thanks to these partnerships, around 15 million citizens can now easily consult data on what their taxes are used for. This double effort, coupled with our desire to produce more and better journalism, forms the base of our enthusiasm for the year ahead in 2017. We have played a decisive role in Spain's burgeoning transparency. Now is the time to implement changes with a lasting footprint, for the benefit of all.

How did we do it?

New Projects

This is our first investigation (but it won't be the last...) into public procurement. The initial launch was planned for the end of 2015 however due to the difficulty of obtaining and analyzing relevant data, this was postponed significantly. This project has seen us analyzing, for the first time, the contracts awarded for public works via the State’s Official Gazette (Boletín Oficial del Estado or BOE in Spanish) between 2009 and 2015. In the face of numerous difficulties and obstacles placed by governing bodies in accessing key data, this journalistic investigation has been able to reveal detailed information about 8,058 contracts, which total €38,828,000,000 and has identified which construction companies receive more contracts and from whom. We have been able to shed light on this critical area, a nucleus of corruption cases connected to urban planning and the illegal financing of political parties in Spain.

The project's website grants access to detailed information about 8,058 construction contracts published in the BOE and awarded to 2,489 construction groups. Following analysis of the data, we were able to reveal that 7 out of every 10 euros in contracts for public works awarded from 2009 onwards vía the BOE went into the coffers of just 10 large construction companies. We also presented a snapshot of public works in Spain along with a photo gallery of the so-called “superobras” or large-scale projects, and their current status.

The project is also accompanied by a set of training materials, the result of everything we've learnt throughout our dissection of Spanish public procurement. From now onward, we are following new lines of investigation and advocacy, which will be carried out throughout 2017 and beyond. Shortly after publishing this report, we learned that the reform of the Public Sector Contracts Act (LCSP in Spanish) was to be urgently drawn up, without passing through the Congress Plenary. Since then, we have been meeting with the main parliamentary groups to request amendments of some very specific aspects of this law, and we plan to keep up the pressure. Any changes we achieve in improving transparency and promoting independent control in this area will have a direct impact on the general public. The full report including our proposals, is available here.

Juan Elosua

¿Quién cobra la obra? was mentioned 24 times in the media over the last two months of 2016. 12,100 unique users consulted our contracts database and read the reports. We also presented the methodologies we used and the difficulties we faced at the Transparency Camp 2016, in Amsterdam. In 2017 we will present new research on public procurement and we will continue to push for improvements to Spanish legislation, bringing it into line with European standards at a minimum.

Goal set out in the 2016 Action Plan:

Open a new line of investigation and advocacy on public procurement.


This is a free and open source tool for the creation of interactive visualizations of networks and nodes, allowing you to tell stories with them. It also facilities the analysis of networks, and requires no technical knowledge whatsoever. If you're interested in journalistic innovation, the visualization of data or tools to communicate complex information in a simple way, Onodo is made for you. A Civio project in collaboration with Eurecat, and funded by the social innovation program CHEST with the support of the 7th Framework Program of the European Commission. The design of its user interface is thanks to La Personnalité,and the visual identity, look and feel of the project were created by The Woork Co.

Development of this tool began in March 2015. An alpha version was made available to a small number of users in May 2016 and, at the end of that month, we carried out an initial test run with potential users during the Democracy Lab, a social innovation and activism event organized by D-Cent. Onodo was finally made fully available for public use in July 2016.

Since then, over 2,000 users actively use Onodo including more than 20 media outlets (e.g. El País, Correctiv!, RTVE Lab, or Cinco Días), social, academic and private organizations. In 2016, over 150,000 unique visitors used the tool or checked the visualizations. Onodo has been used to map Brazilian and Ecuadorian political candidates, entities implicated in corruption scandals, to visually explain the decision making processes of the European Union, highlight influences in literary and cultural studies, demonstrate the ownership of Mexican media outlets, the board of directors of the IBEX 35, examples of ‘revolving doors’ in Spain and even to map characters from TV series.

In 2017 we will introduce updates to the tool, including a 'storytelling' mode.

Goal set out in the 2016 Action Plan:

Increase the international reach of our brand and projects.


This is a Europe-wide project to improve transparency in public expenditure and access to budgetary data. Its purpose is to provide journalists, civil society organizations, NGOs , citizens and public entities with the tools, data and stories they need to promote and improve fiscal transparency. It is funded through a grant from the European Commission under the H2020 framework, where Civio participates together with Open Knowledge Internacional, Journalism++, Open Knowledge Greece, Bonn University, Fraunhofer IAIS, Open Knowledge Germany, Transparency International and Vysoka Skola Ekonomicka of Prague.

Our role in OpenBudgets is to develop an open source platform that allows public entities to carry out participatory budget queries and to facilitate their use in a number of pilot projects with local and regional entities. For the development of this prototype, in 2016 we have collaborated with several cities that have carried out participatory budgets (Mexico DF, Chicago, Paris, Madrid and Torrelodones), we consulted numerous experts and we conducted surveys with potential users. The results of our preliminary research are available to the public. The OpenBudgets consortium held meetings in Prague, Thessaloniki and Brussels, the latter being sponsored by the European Commission to evaluate the development of the project, both internally and through independent assessors.

Civio also held a workshop for journalists at the Madrid Press Association (APM) on how to understand the budgets of public bodies, how to find stories within these and, as a case study, how Spanish political parties are funded by public sources.

In November we launched the first prototype of our participatory budgeting tool, which will be one of the components of the OpenBudgets, platform, alongside other fiscal transparency tools and training materials. Since then we have been in discussions with 3 Spanish governing bodies to put these pilot experiments into practice, which will happen in 2017.


Goal set out in the 2016 Action Plan:

Project development and public presentation of operating software for the execution of participatory budgeting consultations.

Classic Civio Projects

An important part of our efforts goes into the updating, maintenance and improvement of our catalogue of projects, as well as increasing our community of users. These include:


Our first international journalistic investigation, dissecting the global inequality of access to healthcare. The first phase, on essential medicines, was launched in 2015, followed in 2016 with the addition of data from a new country, Belgium, to our database. We further published an article on resistant bacteria, in collaboration with Correct!v (Germany).

In 2016, Medicamentalia garnered media attention by winning some of the top awards we could aspire to, and which placed us side by side with some of the greats of journalism. In Vienna, in June, we were awarded Best Investigation of the Year (small newsroom) at the Data Journalism Awards 2016, an honor we shared with illustrious companions such as ProPublica, La Nación, Buzzfeed, FiveThirtyEight, Al Jazeera America, Quartz and the entire team behind the Panama Papers.

Cat Albeanu

The finishing touch came in September, in Medellín, with the Gabriel García Márquez Prize in the category of journalistic innovation. Yet again we proved ourselves capable, with our small team and limited resources, of providing exceptional journalism and of having the capacity to create global impact from the sidelines of the mainstream media. Medicamentalia also reached the finals of the European Press Prize 2016 and the DIG Awards. Furthermore, we were invited to present the findings of our investigation at events such as Data Harvest (Bélgica) and the European Conference of Science Journalists (UK).

Greatly buoyed by all of this and with a new grant from Journalism Grants, throughout 2016 we worked on the second part of the project, Medicamentalia – Vaccinations, which we published in February 2017 with El Mundo, La Sexta, Correct!v, EuroNews and EuroScientist as collaborators. We traveled to Guatemala, El Salvador and South Africa to investigate in situ the problems of access to vaccines, and their consequences. This project is by no means finished yet.

Goal set out in the 2016 Action Plan:

Develop an investigation into access to vaccines.

Publish via a network of associated media.

Since 2012, this informative project (Our Daily Official Gazette, in English) has been providing the most reliable portrayal of government actions and administration available. Now in its fourth year, the project has both grown and cemented its position as the go-to source of information for these topics. In 2016 it gained over 194,670 unique readers, and over 4,500 readers receive this content direct to their inbox.

In 2016 alone, the blog posts, under a Creative Commons, were published over 105 times in the headlines of La Marea,, El Confidencial, El Español, El Economista, Público and others, as well as being referenced as a source of information by many media outlets - up to 30 times over the course of the year, which lead in turn to increased readership.

Rigorous and contextual, the El BOE nuestro de cada día blog helps to enrich the public debate on public administration among an audience that is only getting wider and more diverse. Some of the topics covered this year were the financing of political parties (¿How are political parties financed?; Subsidies to political parties: the parties' piggy bank);  pardons (The government pardons a property developer that scammed several families with the sale of houses he had no intention of building); the misappropriation of Defense funding (The Defense budget grows by over 1 billion to July, despite having no appropriations) or institutional advertising (The Xunta of Galicia has doled out 12 million to the media in the past few years without following the laws on procurement and subsidies).

Goal set out in the 2016 Action Plan:

Continue to periodically analyze the BOE, and follow up on far-reaching topics.

Promote the distribution and re-publication of its content.

El indultómetro (The Pardonometer, in English) is the primary source of information on the use of official pardons in Spain. This website discloses and categorises all pardons granted since 1996. All users are able to quickly and easily search for granted pardons based on the type of crime, compare annual data and evaluate how successive governments have made use of this privilege.

In February 2016 we updated our pardons database and published the corresponding analysis. The number of pardons continued to decrease and 2015 closed with 75 granted -the lowest figures since 1996 - among which figured the case of a property developer who assaulted a municipal architect, and a civil servant who leaked personal data to police and trade unions. We believe this reduction in the number of pardons is due to the growing unpopularity of such measures, and the informative value of our project. Juan Bravo Rivera, Undersecretary of Justice between January 2012 and October 2014, acknowledged that, in his opinion, media attention surrounding such pardons is not due to the fact that the Ministry of Justice has "done anything unusual" or "because there have been two or three cases that caught the public's attention, "but rather" because right now you have The Pardonometer, which did not exist before".

The Pardonometer was highlighted by the report Changing What Counts: How Can Citizen-Generated and Civil Society Data Be Used as an Advocacy Tool to Change Official Data Collection? by Open Knowledge and CIVICUS DataShift. It features as a case study, as a "civil society-generated database that has been successfully used as a public advocacy tool to garner institutional awareness of the lack of transparency and accountability surrounding official pardons".

We continued to advocate for the disclosure of the motives behind pardons, as well as reasons for their rejection and we hit success: for the first time ever, the government released some information about the reasons for granting pardons to several convicts at the start of Easter. This transparency, however, wasn't to last for long.

Throughout 2016, our tool was used by numerous national and international media outlets. La Sexta Columna, by La Sexta TV channel, dedicated a special edition to pardons, based on the data provided by The Pardonometer. We collaborated on the project 'Pardons and the right to grant them: theory and practice. A multidisciplinary study by the Chair of Criminal Law of the Autonomous University of Madrid’. We also worked with its promoters in meetings and conferences. We presented The Pardonometer at events such as TicTec in Barcelona, the Transparency Camp in Amsterdam, and in a specialized workshop at the invitation of the Royal Academy of Jurisprudence and Legislation. It has appeared 26 times in the press and has been consulted by 10,615 unique users.

Goal set out in the 2016 Action Plan:

Updating, maintenance and consolidation of the project

Content generation and distribution

2016 saw this project – Quién manda? (Who rules? in English) a map of public-private relationships in Spain - move into its 3rd full year. We have demonstrated yet again that it is possible to report on the sphere of influence between the public and private sectors in a verifiable, comparable manner, harnessing unequivocal, transparent sources, the cooperation of citizens, good journalism and most importantly, a genuine, measurable impact.

In the past year we have created or updated 471 profiles for individuals, companies and organizations (there are now over 4,400 available profiles) and 401 connectionsbacked by official documents (you have over 6,800 at your disposal). You can also browse 345 labelled images in the Fotomandón and some 70 articles.

We published new content such as this article on government entourages on 23 journeys made by the Head of State between 2010 and 2015; this one on the conflicts of interest of an ex-CMT (Spanish Telecommunications Regulator, in English) advisor, who received a compensatory state pension following dismissal from her post while she worked for her 'startup'; or on the unsuccessful bid of the ex-minister Soria for the executive directorship of the World Bank.

This project has registered 106,000 unique visitors. It has been copied in Poland, under the name Kto Rzadzi, thanks to a collaboration with Fundacja Media 3.0, whose members paid us a visit in Madrid to share experiences. We also continued to advocate for better transparency of the work schedules and meetings of senior public officials, releasing our own meetings schedule by way of example.

Goal set out in the 2016 Action Plan:

Publish feature stories and reports on a monthly basis and improve the platform technically. We have not been successful in implementing the monthly schedule for content publication. We were able to improve the platform's functionality.

Expand the database with new profiles and verified connections.

Successfully advocate for lobby regulation and the publication of MPs work schedules.

This initiative (Where do my taxes go? in English) allows any citizen to perform a simple, transparent, visual check of how the General State Budget is allocated. More than 14,600 unique users browsed the database in 2016, with the most visited sections being the financing of the Autonomous Communities, contributory pensions from Social Security and Social Security contributions.

Veronica del Carpio

In Argentina, the newspaper La Nación adapted the open source software to, reveal the municipal budgets of the City of Buenos Aires. In Spain, the Congress of Deputies approved a non-legislative motion, supported by all parties except for the Popular Party, requesting the publication of the budgetary execution in a reuseable and visual format, a direct result of our advocacy as part of this project. Where do my taxes go? featured 46 times in the media in 2016.

Goal set out in the 2016 Action Plan:

Update the application with the GSB 2016.

Advocate, demanding publication of the budgetary execution at the same level as the budgets.

España en llamas (Spain in flames, in English) is a Civio project set up by the programmer Juan Elosua and led on the journalistic side by Marcos García Rey with the collaboration of Hugo Garrido.

Every year in July, we update this database with the latest figures from the Summary Statistics of Forest Fires by MAPAMA. However, in 2016 we were not given access to the data for the last complete year, 2014, until September. With these data, we have updated the project's website with new interactive information and multimedia covering the historic period of 2001 - 2014.

Thanks to this update, 2 new articles are now available: one on the particular circumstances of Galicia, a region for which we have mapped all forest fires from 2001 to 2014, and another on the scarce references to forest fires and mountain maintenance in electoral programmes. We have also updated the search application for forest fires, the micro-stories featured in the guided tour and all of the interactive and photographic material that makes up España en llamas.

In 2016, España en llamas has almost 13,000 unique users and appeared 17 times in the press.

Goal set out in the 2016 Action Plan:

Update the application with new data.

Post the latest investigation.

The aim of this initiative is to share and disseminate the foundation's knowledge, gathering resources, both ours and third parties', useful to the practice of data journalism, transparency and open data.

All materials are open and free to use. You'll find videos with 1000s of plays, such as Improving Journalism with Ruby or How to do data journalism with examples from Medicamentalia.

Goal set out in the 2016 Action Plan:

Update, maintain and consolidate the project. We only uploaded one video tutorial in 2016, giving more weight to face-to-face training instead.

We continue to defend your right to know

Although we shut down the platform Tu derecho a saber (Your right to know, in English) in December 2015, in 2016 we were very active in terms of pushing for broader rights of access to public information. The Tu derecho a saber blog is still a go-to source on the practical execution of the Right of Access. Over the last year we have written 5 new articles and the blog has registered almost 30,000 unique users.

3 activities to highlight from 2016 in relation to this right:

  • The Marathon of requests for information that we organized together with the Transparency Council and Access Info Europe to commemorate International Right to Know Day. On this day, we launched a simple form that anyone could use to request information without technical restriction e.g., not possessing an electronic certificate, and channeled these requests ourselves. 90 citizens sent us over 160 requests for information addressed to several ministries, councils, municipalities and other public organizations. The event was a resounding success, and served to highlight just how much still needs to be done to facilitate the requesting of information from public institutions.

  • The Workshop on Access to Information for social and neighbourhood organizations. This training day aimed to help collectives such as neighbourhood associations, social organizations, activists and any individual citizen to more efficiently exercise their right to access information held by public institutions. This session was delivered by the Civio team along with Access Info Europe, the Transparency Council and the Transparency Directorate of the City of Madrid.

  • We participated in a campaign organised by Access Info Europe in which over 40 Spanish academics demanded that the Right to Access Information be recognized as a basic right.

Throughout 2016 we have submitted dozens of requests for information. Two ministries in particular have hampered Civio's access to data of public interest: Development and Defense. The former declared our request inadmissible, an information request on the relationship of payments made by the ministry in two very specific rounds of payment earmarked for the creation, maintenance and exploitation of roadways, going so far as to question “the serious and legitimate purpose of the applicant”. Defense went even further. This ministry has taken a Transparency Council resolution to court. The resolution dealt with a request by Civio to reveal who the passengers on official flights are, with the exception of travel undertaken by the President or members of the Royal Family, given that these are classified. After losing the first case, Defense appealed the judgment, which was in our favour, meaning we will continue to fight for this information to be revealed throughout 2017.

Making budgetary information understandable

During 2016, the provision of transparency services to local authorities - based on Where do my taxes go?, an open source tool that we created for Aragón Open Data - has been non-stop. So much so that it is far and away the most utilised platform in Spain for local and regional authorities to efficiently communicate their budget management to citizens.

Over the course of 2016, we have assisted dozens of local and regional authorities, in establishing and implementing the platform, and initiated the project with a further 10, to be continued throughout 2017. This is a significant increase on the 2015 figures in terms of implementation. We have helped implement the project in two autonomous communities (the Region of Murcia and the Balearic Islands) and in municipalities such as Barcelona, Santiago de Compostela, Castellón, Pinto (Madrid), La Vall D'Uixo (Castellón), Polinyà (Barcelona) or Arona (Santa Cruz de Tenerife). Further, the foundations were laid for several other examples of Where do my taxes go? which have been launched in 2017, such as Madrid, Canary Islands and A Coruña, among others. And in many of these cases, we guided and helped the government teams to present these initiatives to the public. We also presented the public sector's progressive implementation of Where do my taxes go? at the International Open Data Conference in Madrid, to an international audience.

The naming of Where do my taxes go? – Pinto as Good Practice of innovation, transparency and innovation for other entities of the public sector by the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP) was an important milestone last year. The project for Pinto was the first one we carried out with the updated Where do my taxes go? software.

Find all of the projects undertaken to date here:

Political advocacy and public impact

Every step we take as an organization (new projects, collaborations with the public sector, journalistic investigations, delivery of training, etc.) forms part of a deliberate effort to effect cultural and social change. In order to focus on priorities, at the end of 2015 we synthesised 11 concrete proposals for transparency and accountability into a manifesto, with the aim of engaging the main political parties in executing these proposals. Acting as a pressure group, we met openly and publicly with representatives of 6 parties, to convey our reasons and explain their practical and viable application. All of our proposals featured in their electoral programs, although not to the same extent, and have formed the basis of our advocacy throughout 2016.

Transparency of public agendas became a priority in 2016. We produced a document of recommendations for the publication of these work schedules and meetings of senior officials and we shared this with the Transparency Council, which began to work on this area after finding that there were dozens of requests for information regarding said schedules, many of them submitted by Civio. Thus, some of our suggested measures were adopted by this regulator for its 2017 recommendations on the subject. In 2016 we also signed a collaboration agreement with the Council to jointly disseminate the right to access public information.

2016 was an unusual parliamentary year, with an interim government in place for various months. On a national level, we pushed Congress to adopt measures to visually publish the Chamber's detailed budgetary information, and these were approved by the Board of Congress. Furthermore, in March, we and other organizations met with the socialist candidate for the Presidency, and his team, to lay out priorities in the field of transparency. At this meeting, we called for more concrete action and more details on how he planned to implement this.

Together with the meetings schedule, transparency of public procurement was our other main line of advocacy in 2016. We met with the main parliamentary groups to request an amendment to certain aspects of this law, currently pending, and we will continue to lobby for this. We also worked at local and regional government levels. Some examples:

In the Community of Madrid, two groups –Ciudadanos and Podemos- based several of their amendments to the regional project on the Law on Transparency on our proposals. The process is still pending to this day. We thoroughly analyzed and published recommendations both to the draft submitted by the regional government and to that, drafted and submitted by the Socialist Party. We maintain three priorities: independent monitoring, a penalty system, and greater requirement for active advertising.

The City Hall of Madrid invited us to participate in the development of the municipal transparency regulation. During one meeting with the Directorate General of Transparency, we shared our assessment of the draft .Some of the points covered were ultimately incorporated in the regulation. During the entire process, we advocated for one of the most important parts, the Register of Lobbies, to be set out in a more efficient way. The results are now materialising in 2017.

Meanwhile, the City Council of Madrid asked us for a letter of support for its candidacy to be one of the sub-national pilots of the Open Government Partnership (OGP). Their proposal was elected and Civio is one of the civil society organizations to collaborate in the application of their pledges to Open Governance. We were invited to present and delve into this partnership at international conferences in Buenos Aires and at the annual summit of the OGP in Paris.

Anne Hidalgo

Other processes we participated in to effect advances in transparency were:

  • We participated in the public consultation phase of the draft Law on Transparency and Good Governance of Castilla-La Mancha, at the request of the regional parliament.

  • In Seville and Santiago de Compostela, some of our proposals were gathered and taken to municipal plenaries by local groups.

In October, during the celebration of the International Open Data Conference in Madrid, a group of civil society organizations sent a letter to the ministries of the Presidency, and of Industry, Energy and Tourism, to request a stronger commitment to roll out open data and open government across Spain. During this event we presented projects such as the Pardonometer and OpenBudgets to an international audience, and organised a party to encourage people to get to know us, establish and consolidate ties with other organizations, and to enjoy the Madrid sky.

Since September 2016, thanks to an alliance with Fí, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering transparency of public affairs via anonymous leaks, we now have at our disposal an online mailbox through which anyone is able to reveal information of interest to the public to Fundación Civio, in a fully encrypted way that guarantees anonymity and the safety of the sender.

2016 Accounts

For the 5th year in a row, Civio is financially sustainable. 2016 closed with operating profits of €5,700. Throughout the year, generated income reached €336,456, a 35% increase on the previous year. An amount, however, which is below the forecast of our 2016 Action Plan, in which we calculated €405,000 (see explanation below). Only one exception - the difference in the euro/ dollar exchange rate - leaves a slight negative balance of €122.40.

Along with income spending also increased: the Civio team incorporated another member of staff, we improved our salary scales and cemented the post of Director of the foundation as a paid position. Hence, operating expenses reached €330,751. The majority of this goes on staff wages - salaries comprised 78% of the total annual expenditure. Our compensation packages ranged from €21,000 gross per year at the lowest point on the scale, to €28,000 gross at the top end of the scale, to which should be added a variable bonus according to annual results. The salary of the Executive Director was €39,500.

Institutional income and awards structure

Cost structure

2016 revenue (€336,456) came from:

  • Civio's collaborators and specific donors (€30,649 - 9% of the total)

    The support of Civio's collaborators, with their regular contributions, and other people who have donated regularly, has proved more important than ever. Donation revenue increased 40% over the previous year, with over 250 partners. This figure allowed us to meet the forecasts in our Action Plan, and we will only double our efforts in 2017 to earn the active support of more collaborators and individuals.

  • Provision of professional services (€126,722 - 38% of the total)

    Income from services, an important pillar of our sustainability, increased by 88% over 2015. We set up the tool Where do my taxes go? in two autonomous communities and 8 municipalities. This channel has generated €117,761.2 and the pipeline of projects confirmed to run in 2017 is on the increase. We also earned €8,638 in training fees.

    Revenue in this category was below the forecast of the 2016 Action Plan (€200,000), due to the change in accounting method (from cash to accrual) implemented last year: services sold during the year exceeded that figure, but in 2016 we only include those contracts that are already complete.

  • Institutional support and awards (€179,085 - 53% of the total)

    Revenue based on institutional support came entirely from outside of Spain, as in previous years. Our participation in the European OpenBudgets project (€86,760), support from OSIFE (Open Society Initiative for Europe, €43,814.72), a grant from Journalism Grants for Medicamentalia (€19,925) and from the CHEST consortium to create Onodo (€17,000) provided the majority of this funding. The prizes we won - the Gabriel García Márquez and the Data Journalism Award - generated a further €10,631.

Although a diverse range of revenue streams allows us more flexibility when faced with the unexpected, one of our goals for the present year is to ensure that the percentage of income generated from collaborators and donors provides the majority of the total balance.


Since our launch, our annual accounts have been available to the public. You can browse them here.

Goal set out in the 2016 Action Plan:

Maintain the sustainability of our growing organization. Although revenue was lower than our forecast, we achieved growth by increasing expenses within the forecast limits.

Good Governance

We continued to apply the best governance standards to ourselves throughout the year. According to a 2016 report, out of over 27 non-profit journalistic organizations, only two made their accounts fully available including staff salaries: Civio and Correct!v (Germany).

In January 2016, we cemented the post of Civio's Executive Director as a paid position following approval from the Protectorate of Foundations. While David Cabo, co-founder and trustee of the organization, had been in this post since the end of 2012, it has been up till now an unpaid position. Cementing and achieving recognition for this position gives Civio's directorate the stability needed to lead the organization in the long-term.

Our team continued to grow with the addition of Eduardo Sebastián, a back-end programmer who plays a key role in projects such as Onodo, OpenBudgets and the creation of transparency tools for the public sector.

Shared experiences

Throughout 2016 we continued to share our experience via courses, workshops and forums with public authorities, communication groups and social organizations. Below are some examples.

On the journalism side, we established partnerships with the media and non-profit organizations to extend the scope of our investigations and kick start some new ones, e.g. with the African Network of Centers for Investigative Reporting (ANCIR) and with Hivos.

In terms of training, we participated in the Entrepreneurial Journalism seminars at UCAM, Murcia, with a workshop on how we carry out our journalistic practices from the sidelines of the mainstream media. We also delivered a module on data and new narratives at the Miguel Hernández University of Elche, training on data processing and visualization in the newsroom of Cuatro TV, and we continued to form part of the teaching staff on the Master of Research Journalism, Data And Visualization of Editorial Unity, as well as Rey Juan Carlos University.

María Sureda

Along with 23 journalists from 7 countries, we participated in a seminar on political capture, inequality and journalism organized by the Fundación Nuevo Periodismo Iberoamericano and Oxfam in Mexico City.

Thanks to our partnerships with the public sector, we were invited by the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP) to speak at the 9th Conference on Modernization of Citizen Participation and Quality (Malaga). We also shared our experience by opening up public data and bringing it closer to citizens in seminars held in Oviedo, San Sebastián and Terrassa. We participated in activities organized by the Federation of Catalan Municipalities, the ESADE business school, Chaminade University Residence and the Spanish Association of Foundations. We also formed part of the jury of the Go App! Madrid 2016, organised by Apps for Citizens, and presented our book ‘Españopoly’ in Zaragoza.

Throughout 2016, we responded to 100s of enquiries from citizens, journalists and authorities, the majority related to access and better understanding of public information. This is an onerous, on-going task of training and query resolution, which addresses the public service function that our organization has pledged.

Awareness and public scope

Our articles, re-publishable under a Creative Commons license, are used daily by dozens of media outlets, including La Marea,, El Confidencial, El Español, El Economista or Público. Just the articles from the El BOE nuestro de cada día blog were republished over 105 times in 2016. Further, the data our projects generate have been quoted 143 times as a news source by other publications.

In terms of media exposure, and not including the re-published articles, in 2016 Civio was mentioned 299 times in the media, a coverage that was viewed favourably and in which, for yet another year, digital media sources are of note. 16% of this coverage was in the international media (vs. 12% in 2015 and 2% in 2014), mainly thanks to Medicamentalia and the awards we won. 56% of the coverage was in the national news. Coverage in local and regional news, which was 27% of total coverage, was mainly related to the public presentation of Where do my taxes go? In 2016, 26% of the news coverage we received focused on Civio's work in general, our advocacy or our work with public authorities, while 74% focused on our projects, benchmarks of their various fields.

In international media, we would like to highlight reference to Civio in analyses and articles such as GIJN Member Civio: Fighting for Transparency in Spain and New Journalism Ecosystem Thrives Worldwide by the Global Investigative Journalism Network, Data Journalism awards celebrate evidence-based questioning in our society in EuroScientist, Small Newsrooms, Big Prize in AdWeek, This Easter, the Pardonometer Is Taking on an Old Tradition in Spain in Global Voices or Non traditional media from Spain and Latin America winners at the Gabriel García Márquez Festival by Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.

At the close of 2016, more than 12,500 subscribers had received news bulletins from Civio via email. With 71 mails featuring information and campaigns throughout the year, the opening rate of these bulletins exceeded 37% on average, surpassing 50% in the case of those who are part of Civio's community of collaborators and friends. These statistics reflect a high level of interest, exceeding the average of other social organizations. In addition, more than 4,500 people receive every new post on Our daily BOE direct to their mailbox.

Civio's Twitter account had 15,300 followers by the end of 2016. Content disseminated through this network recorded 2.5 million hits, 9,200 clicks on the links published and 6,800 RTs over the last year. To this institutional profile, we must add around 8,500 followers of @tuderechoasaber, more than 6,500 followers of @quien_manda and 430 of @Onodo_.

On Facebook, Civio began 2016 with around 6,500 followers and ended with 7,240. Meanwhile over on Youtube, the Civio channel finished 2016 with 233 subscribers and more than 27,500 views.

We are not alone, not at all

There are many people who are willing to help and selflessly give part of their time to helping us promote transparency:

Hugo Garrido was, for yet another year, crucial to the update of Spain in flames..

Medicamentalia is a joint achievement which received a lot of help from the journalist Asier Andrés in Guatemala and Julio Hernández with video sound, in El Salvador; besides, Medicamentalia would have reached far fewer people without the invaluable support of Verónica Ramírez, on La Sexta, by Marta Ley, Pablo Medina and Hugo Garrido at El Mundo Data, by Hristio Boytchev, of Corret!v and Sabine Louet at EuroScientist, who supported us as far as possible.

With a project as complex as ¿Quién cobra la obra? it would have been much more difficult to dig up the dirt without Asier Andrés, who delved into Spanish procurement regulations, Antonio Almansa and his leads on public procurement, Imma Borrás, who helped us to interpret the law, Manuel Acevedo and Guillermo Llopis, with information gathering and Carmela Castro, for comparing our law with that of other countries.

Irene Cruz and Francesco Cortellese have helped us with the Pardonometer; and Crystal Serrano, from Florida, helped us with the organization's day to day tasks throughout the summer of 2016.

Some of the many lessons we have learned this year

  • Despite transparency being introduced into Spanish institutions back in 2014, it is still in the early, yet very important, stages. As yet we have no approved regulation for the implementation of the state-wide law, the more ambiguous limits of the rules allow for systematic concealment of information from citizens, the obstacles hampering the right of access that we have denounced since 2013 are still in place, and public bodies still choose - all too often - to litigate against the Transparency Council in order to not hand over data. Within this context, and with the regulation of lobbies and reforms to the laws on public procurement just around the corner, an organization such as Civio, with its wealth of experience and commitment in the long-term to genuine, efficient transparency within public institutions, is today, more important than ever before.

  • Delving deeper, for the first time in 2016, into the realm of public procurement has only confirmed what we feared. Information about what the public purse is spent on in Spain is far more scattered, far more erroneous, and far more inconsistent than we thought. It is a lot more difficult to get our hands on this data, as we've learned from ¿Quién cobra la obra?, and this only serves to confirm that our work is essential. That's why promoting transparency in public procurement is one of our main focuses for 2017.

  • Although Civio has been a financially sustainable organization for another year running long-term consolidation remains a challenge of the highest caliber. Securing new revenue is crucial to Civio's sustainability and growth, but we still have considerable dependencies. On the one hand, we have our grants and institutional support. In 2016 we presented a proposal to the European Commission, our most ambitious proposal yet, to create a network of international media that would report, in a coordinated way and with a Europe-wide as well as local focus, on health provision and justice. The effort and the resources spent on creating the proposal were ultimately not rewarded, but we continue to trust in the high potential of the project and are keeping it on the back burner. On the other hand, we have our provision of services to the public sector as a source of self-financing. These services based on specialized knowledge and with high added value have proved key to our sustainability throughout 2016, and will continue to do so in 2017. The support of large international donors has also played its role in allowing us to carry out projects with a transnational scope, which require higher levels of funding. We have been proactive in approaching large donors and will continue in the same vein. We continue to increase the demands on ourselves to ensure that such dependencies do not detract from the efficiency and rigor of our work.

  • To improve, we must continue to look outwith Spain. As reported in our 2015 Annual Report, Spain’s framework of organizations - with stable teams, resources and rigorous methodology - specialising in the field of civic technology, is still in a nascent phase compared to other countries. The benchmarks, the successful experiments, the strategic vision on what transparency implies in the long run, all lie outside of the country. The close collaboration we embarked upon in 2015 with organizations based in other countries (for the project OpenBudgets, for example) was consolidated in 2016, and will bear new fruits throughout 2017.

  • Our 2016 Annual Plan turned out to be over optimistic. The workload on the larger projects (Onodo, ¿Quién cobra la obra?, OpenBudgets) left us a very tight margin when added to our essential day to day activities: to increase public advocacy, more journalistic work, to deliver training or respond to hundreds of queries we receive annually from journalists, authorities and citizens. In 2015 we stated that planning work would require experience, time and perspective to attain the highest standards of quality, and we recognized "difficulties in long-term planning in areas such as hiring new staff time spent on current or new projects and the search for sources of funding”. To grow as a foundation in the long term, we need to improve our planning and do so in accordance with clearly defined goals.

  • We generate a huge amount of content throughout the year. Until now, this has been published on various websites associated with each of the projects we run - on El BOE nuestro de cada día, on Quién manda, on El indultómetro, etc-. This made sense while we only had a few projects. Now, with an expanded portfolio, we are exploring how we can merge this enormous and varied amount of information in one single website, facilitating access and better reflecting the journalistic essence of Civio.

  • We once again assert that the future of Civio depends on its collaborators, on engaging a community of individuals who identify with our organization’s goals and projects, and who are willing to regularly contribute with the economic assistance we require. Their support is vital in order to better plan our work, and avoid exclusive dependency on other sources of funding - the provision of services, winning international awards or securing grants. "Each donor is different, each one has their own priorities and motivations," we stated in the 2014 Annual Report. In 2017 we are endeavouring to understand their expectations and live up to them. We will strive to show that in all of our decisions, with rigor and credibility, their support is worthwhile.

Small victories that are possible thanks to our donors

  • More than 816,000 unique users browsed our projects in 2016, to learn more about public administration and take a more active role in society, accounting for a 25% increase over 2015. More and more citizens, organizations, entities, social movements and public officials from all sectors are joining the public debate that we continue to promote, based on evidence and the free access to data.

  • We have participated in and influenced regional, local and sectoral processes of adaptation to transparency. As a result of our recommendations, the regulatory recognition of public access to information is being expanded and strengthened through best practice, to the benefit of thousands of organizations and individuals. Our recommendations for municipal transparency have been taken on board publicly by various groups, some with governmental responsibilities.

  • By the end of 2016, 14.7 million citizens (compared to 5.5 million in 2015) were able to verify which policies every single euro of their taxes is spent on, thanks to our efforts to make local authorities’ management of public budgets more understandable, via Where do my taxes go? Our first such collaboration, with the Government of Aragón, is one of the cases highlighted in the report Making budgets attractive: best practices from governments’ financial transparency portals. Through OpenBudgets, we have taken a logical step towards helping public bodies to not only make their budgets transparent but also participatory. The results of this project will be seen in 2017.

  • At the end of 2016, the government launched the 'express reform' (and urgent reform that doesn't need to be approved by Congress) of the Law on Public Procurement, a key move to put an end to corruption. And when they did so, thanks to everything we'd learnt from ¿Quién cobra la obra?, we were prepared. Thanks to our recommendations and meetings with the main parliamentary groups, our proposals were practically adopted in full in the amendments of different parties, which will be voted on and incorporated into the law in 2017.

  • Now more than ever there is discussion in our public institutions about how to publish the budgetary execution in the most detailed way possible, how to make the activities of pressure groups (lobbies) more transparent, as they start to come under regulation, how to publish the work and meetings schedules of senior officials, as well as the entire "legislative footprint" (the journey laws take and how they change at each step), of the absence of transparency in the public procurement of medicines and vaccines, and of the necessity to reform the Law on Pardons, amongst others. Our contribution to this discussion throughout 2016 was invaluable. When we launched Quién manda in 2013, there was little talk about the importance of being able to learn about the work and meetings schedules of senior officials. Some, even from within the field of transparency advocacy, questioned these demands. Today, it's in the spotlight. Our perseverance in requesting this information from the Executive and the Legislature since 2013 is valued and was taken on by the Transparency Council in a recent recommendation. Several regional and local regulations, along with some of the main electoral programs at the last general elections, have also taken our proposals on board.

  • The Board of Congress approved the adoption of measures to publish visually and in detail the House's budgetary information with the aim of providing citizens with the useful knowledge of how allocated money is spent. Following our recommendations, such measures were requested by the spokespeople of the party Unidos Podemos-En Comú Podem-En Marea to the Committee on Budgets.

  • The civic aims of our initiatives are fulfilled when we are able to release data to the public, and effect social change with these.The best example is, for another year running, The Pardonometer.After four years monitoring the granting of pardons, data revealed that the Government is now using this privilege with more caution. Social pressure is effective and, as detailed within this report, Civio's work has played an important part in this. The Pardonometer has been used in classes by the University of Barcelona, the Catholic University of Murcia and the European University of the Atlantic. On the other hand, our data on the price of hepatitis C drugs served as the basis for this IS Global report: Hepatitis C: The New Battleground for Access to Essential Medicines. Likewise, data revealed by Medicamentalia allowed the Ukrainian agency Interfax to denounce the difficulty Ukrainians face in purchasing essential medicines not so much due to their high prices as the low averages incomes in the country.

  • In 2015 we denounced that the Senate was applying instructions to its website’s search engines (the robots.txt file) to block certain searchers' access to senator's files, and to various parliamentary initiatives. This instruction was used, for example, to ensure that via search engines such as Google, it wasn't possible to find out which public representatives have links to private companies, as declared in their personal files. In 2016, following publication of this information, the Senate stopped blocking the indexing of this data.

  • Our greatest victory, however, has been to close 2016 yet again with a positive balance, a team which is growing stronger, the motivation to face new, larger challenges in 2017, and the confidence to commit to our donors and followers, ensuring we live up to their expectations.