Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A Project

Sorry I haven't been posting much, but I've been working on a project.

One of the best sources of information on Penn State's finances are the Stairs Reports (look over to your right) which the Commonwealth releases each winter. Unfortunately, the reports are in pdf format which make their analysis a bit cumbersome. The few times that I have tried to do an analysis I've transfered the data by hand to a spreadsheet (here and here, for example). I can assure you that that's not the way I like to spend my spare time. Now I've found software which converts pdf to xls formats. The past few days I've been fooling around with a trial version doing some conversion.

My project is to convert the data in all of the Stairs Reports, save the first which is a scanned pdf and can't be converted by the software, into Excel workbooks and post them on line as as Google Documents. My first stab at this is here. It's only one table from a 2007 Stair report and as you can see the software isn't perfect. The spreadsheets will require some cleaning by hand, but it sure beats the old way of doing things.

Once these are all up-I'm not setting a deadline for myself-people will be able to use Google Spreadsheets to analyze the data for themselves or they can download it to analyze with Excel or Open Office.

Consider this my contribution to making Penn State a little more transparent.

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