Working with partners at Ipsos, The World Bank, and the Iraqi Ministry of Finance, I designed the first-ever Citizen’s Budget of Iraq, which helps ordinary citizens understand their federal budget allocations. This is a print project distributed in Arabic and English.
- Iraqi Ministry of Finance (client)
- Origins of this project
- Examples of citizen’s budgets
- Why do we need a citizen’s budget?
- Rwanda example (illustrated)
- Philippines example (data viz)
- Library of Public Budget Documents
- Best practices
- Civic Design
- Assumptions/biases (Women comprise 26% of iraq’s national parliament)
- Plain language movement
Flesch Kincaid reading scale
A ridiculously detailed breakdown of Obama's 2016 budget proposal, all in one chart
How can you visually compare what the Air Force spends researching the "space fence" and other far-flung projects with the budget of the Food and Drug Administration, which tries to keep the E. coli out of our cabbage?
- An apt example of the type of data source I worked with (this is from 2010): FY 2010
- As discussed, the target audience are Iraqi citizens. The final document would thus benefit from more reliance on illustrations and less on graphs to help communicate and simplify complex budget concepts such as deficits and public debt.
- Some of the text in the body such as section 3.2 and 4.1 is packed with useful information that could be brought more clearly using illustrations and graphs.
- For treemaps and other graphs, please include both % shares and values
- Bar graphs are generally quite crowded – not sure if we can think of other ways to visualize those tables. The graph presented in section 4.5 is interesting with the 2017 benchmark but it’s not very visible – can we perhaps think of a way to bring out those big changes year on year.
- In section 4.8, the tables/graphs could be merged, as the externally financed part is already included in total investment allocations
- The target size for printing is A4
Concepts → Blueprint
The page below describes and illustrates my concept development for this project to Courtney Marchese, author of the book Information for the Common Good, published in Fall 2021. Although my case study wasn't included in the final volume, it was a valuable exercise to write this case study.
Despite the need to show more illustrations, I also was given a lot of spreadsheets, and the best we to communicate that information was through charts and maps. For the charts, I would look for ways to turn them more into Chartoons, a specialty that I can learn from the work of Nigel Holmes.
Finally, an improved translation and collaboration system would have helped the project because we all worked on this at different places in the world. As a constraint, the entire project could be designed in a Google Doc for real-time collaboration. The layout design would be simple, allowing me to invest more time in making the Chartoons effective for an audience that might be unfamiliar with reading budgetary information.
Most projects benefit from time and reflection, and there are always elements to improve. Given this consideration, the partners at The World Bank and the client, the Iraqi Ministry of Finance, were pleased with this project and want to create similar initiatives in countries located in the Middle East and North Africa.
"This achievement is critical for Iraq." — Emmanuel Cuvillier