Home > Government > A brief overview of COINS

A brief overview of COINS


On June 4th, 2010 HM Government released Combined Online Information System (COINS) database, the main database used by HM Treasury budgeting. This is a significant milestone in the opening up of UK government data. The data is available here

This post gives a brief overview of that data, and links to sources that help understand that data. I’ve also done a blog post about a little programming project I did to recreate the government Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses(PESA) reports from the COINS data, see: Using the COINS data to recreate PESA reports

Overview of COINS data

The structure of the COINS data is explained in HM Treasury – Understanding the COINS data

Initially the government released four files in zip format. These unzipped to give:

  • fact_table_extract_2009_10.txt
  • fact_table_extract_2008_09.txt
  • adjustment_table_extract_2009_10.txt
  • adjustment_table_extract_2008_09.txt

A Very brief summary of the file structure

The released files contain the COINS data in unicode format, with fields separated by @ and one record on each line. All amounts are in thousands of pounds.

The Treasury maintains data for recorded spending (outturn), forecast spending (estimated outturn for the latest year) and planned spending (up to three years ahead). The COINS data also includes snapshots of the spending data. The Data_type field has values that reflect this, including “Outturn”, “Forecast Outturn ” (eg “Forecast Outturn March”), “Plans” and “Snapshot”.

A clear distinction is made between current and capital spending, based on Generally Accepted Accounting Practice (GAAP). The Resource_Capital field has a value of “Resource” or “Capital” to reflect this.

Departments are given firm three year spending limits called Departmental Expenditure Limits(DELs) within which they prioritise resources and plan ahead. Spending that cannot reasonably be subject to firm multi-year limits, or that relates to certain non-cash transactions, is included in Annually Managed Expenditure(AME). DEL and AME together make up Total Managed Expenditure(TME). The Budget_Boundary field has a value of DEL, AME or Not DEL/AME to reflect this.

Spending is by department. The Department_code field reflects this.

Useful links

Treasury Information

HM Treasury publish documents that may help to understand COINS and, and how that data may be used and aggregated. These include:

HM Treasury publishes a number of documents based COINS data. Public Spending Statistics are available here: Statistics on Public Finance and Spending.

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  1. Jun 13, 2010 at 09:48 | #1

    Dear Martin,
    You may be interested in our platform, RA.Pid, which we have populated with the Treasury’s COINS data. This can be found here: https://rapidgateway.rapidintel.com. Unlike other sites, we have enabled individuals to look into the data using easy-to-use web analytics. We will upload additional data when the government releases it within 24 hours.
    Kind regards, Lance

  1. Jun 12, 2010 at 19:12 | #1
  2. Jun 14, 2010 at 09:49 | #2
  3. Jun 14, 2010 at 23:37 | #3
  4. Jun 16, 2010 at 13:31 | #4
  5. Jun 17, 2010 at 09:24 | #5
  6. Jun 23, 2010 at 12:46 | #6

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