DIGIWHIST The Digital Whistleblower. Fiscal Transparency, Risk Assessment and Impact of Good Governance Policies Assessed.

This EU Horizon 2020 funded project brings six research institutes together, including the European Research Centre for Anti-Corruption and State-Building (ERCAS) at the Hertie School of Governance, with the aim of empowering society to combat public sector corruption.

Imagine driving on a road which is full of potholes, in spite of having been repaired only a few months ago. DIGIWHIST would allow you to instantly identify the corresponding government contract (e.g. using geolocation), the construction company and the amount of public money involved. In addition, you would be able to take a photo of the potholes and attach them to a contract or organisation profile, thus contributing to the evidence of poor quality. By DIGIWHIST’s mobile app and web portal, you can thus file reports linked to the corresponding procurement information concerning contracts, winning companies and contracting bodies directly to the respective public authority. We do not, however, allow for general whistleblowing or uploading of documents. Marrying ‘Big Data’ analytics with such a rich local knowledge of citizens, we believe, will drastically increase the capacity to hold governments and their contractors to account.

The project’s main objectives are the following:

To improve trust in governments and efficiency of public spending across Europe by empowering civil society, investigative journalists, and civil servants with the information and tools they need to increase transparency in public spending and thus accountability of public officials in all EU and in some neighbouring countries. The project will compile and evaluate micro-level data using information from individual public procurement transactions and winning firms’ finance and ownership structures. This data will be linked to information on aggregate asset and income declarations in order to detect potential conflicts of interest in the system of public procurement, and more specifically, to identify systemic vulnerabilities in the respective legislations and their implementation.

The project will create several interactive products:

    • national procurement portals and mobile apps allow users to do four key things: 1) making the database and documentation downloadable 2) providing easy to use interactive analytic tools, and 3) making it possible for users to contribute to data and 4) allowing for anonymous whistleblower reports and freedom of information requests;
    • a European transparency legislation observatory similar to the national procurement portals, which allows users to access and understand existing legal frameworks related to public procurement;
      • an easy-to-use risk assessment software for public authorities, which will be based on the indicators developed by DIGIWHIST, measuring transparency, corruption risks, and administrative quality, in order to assess corruption risks in their public procurement procedures.

This project work will be carried out simultaneously across 35 jurisdictions:

      • 28 EU Member States – Norway
      • the European Commission – Iceland
      • Switzerland – Serbia
      • Georgia – Armenia



The consortium, led by the University of Cambridge, includes ERCAS (Hertie School of Governance), Corruption Research Centre Budapest, Hungary; Datlab, Prague, Czech Republic; Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland, Berlin, Germany; and Transcrime (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore) organised crime research centre, Milan, Italy. DIGIWHIST builds extensively on the partners’ prior innovative work in this area, particularly EU FP7 ANTICORRP.




Twitter – @digiwhist


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 645852

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