UK departmental spending above 25000 GBP
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UK departmental spending over GBP 25000

This repository contains scripts to acquire, clean and process the spending information released by the UK central government.

ETL stages

The scripts have several stages that need to be run in order:

  • build_index - will find all related metadata (tagged: spend-transactions) on
  • retrieve will then try to fetch all the files
  • extract will attempt to parse CSV/XLS/... and load it into a DB
  • combine column names are mapped and values are stored in one central table
  • cleanup parses dates and amounts. Reconciles entity names with Nomenklatura.
  • validate discards any transactions that don't have a parsed date and amount
  • report creates the report HTML
  • dump dumps all the database to spending.csv
  • transfer transfers spending.csv to an OpenSpending website


First clone this repo:

git clone

On Ubuntu you need to install a number of packages:

sudo apt-get install python-dev postgresql libpq-dev libxml2-dev libxslt1-dev

You need to install the dependencies (best in a python virtual environment):

virtualenv pyenv-dpkg-uk25k
pyenv-dpkg-uk25k/bin/pip install -r dpkg-uk25k/requirements.txt

Note: If you encounter Error: pg_config executable not found. when installing psycopg2 or compile errors for lxml xslt-config: not found, it means that some of the packages were not successfully installed on the previous step.

The default configuration is in default.ini. If you want to change the configuration, copy it config.ini and edit it there. To save specifying the report directory when you run, add it to the config. To do the transfer stage, then an openspending.apikey needs to be specified.

Now create a postgres user for your unix user name:

sudo -u postgres createuser -D -R -S $USER

Now check your postgres cluster is configured as UTF8 - it needs to be.

psql -l

You should see UTF8 in the Encoding column. If it is something else then you should either create a new template with the correct encoding, or recreate your whole cluster. Note this will delete any other postgres databases! To do this:

sudo -u postgres pg_dropcluster --stop 9.1 main
sudo -u postgres pg_createcluster --start 9.1 main --locale=en_US.UTF-8

If you have any issues with making the database UTF8, see:

Before you can run the scripts you need to prepare a database:

sudo -u postgres createdb uk25k

And allow access to the database by editing /etc/postgresql/9.1/main/pg_hba.conf and adding this line:

local uk25k all trust

Now restart postgres:

sudo service postgresql restart

Running the ETL scripts

Run the ETL scripts like this:

. pyenv-dpkg-uk25k/bin/activate
cd dpkg-uk25k

Or do the whole lot together:

python && python && python && python && python && python && python

When running the scripts multiple times, previously successful resources will not be processed again. Use --force to ensure they are. If you want to start completely from fresh, you can delete and recreate all tables like this:

sudo -u postgres dropdb uk25k
sudo -u postgres createdb uk25k

To limit the analysis to one publisher, specify the name as a parameter to build_index:

python wales-office

All the later steps can be confined to a particular publisher, dataset or resource using options. Use '--help' on each command for more details.

And finally, if you want to dump the resulting spend database to spending.csv and load it into OpenSpending then you can do:



When the spending table gets big (10 millions rows seen 2/2014) then queries in and get very slow unless you create an index:

CREATE INDEX spending_resource_id_index ON spending (resource_id);


  • PDFs
  • Zip files containing a bunch of CSVs (potentially for a number of publishers)