The information in the database records two sets of related data:

  1. Organizations or ‘units’ and their attributes
  2. The set of ‘events’ that happened to each of these organizations at different stages of their development

For each unit, the database tracks its creation and any subsequent changes to its organizational status (e.g. mergers with other organizations, privatizations, etc.), as well as the evolution of its defining characteristics which include its functions, legal status, the policy fields within which it operates, and its relationship to other organizations in the database.


‘Units’ in this database are national-level organizations which perform public functions under public authority. These include government departments, agencies, and commercial state-owned enterprises. For further details on the types of organizations included in the database, see the What we have done and why document

Units can be searched by name, legal form, function, policy area, or date. On each unit’s page, information is available including dates of activity, alternate names, relevant legislation, related units, and related events. Each unit also has a summary page, which includes data on characteristics such as legal form, policy area, function, accountability mechanisms, location, and parent bodies. For further details on the data recorded about each unit, see the Codebook


‘Events’ describe the changes which units undergo. They describe structural changes, such as instances where units are created or terminated, and also instances where major transfers of functions take place. Merge, Absorption, and Secession are among the event types captured in the database.

Events can be searched by event name, unit, event type, linkage with other events, unit function, or date. Within each event’s listing, there are links to the units involved and any relevant legislation. Groups of related events, such as large-scale departmental reorganisations, can be viewed together through Linkages. For further details, see the Codebook

Reports and Charts

Reports show all the units in existence on 1 January of the selected year, arranged by legal form. To produce a report, input a year and select ‘Show all units.’ Within the report, each category can be expanded by clicking it, and it is also possible to ‘Expand all.’ There are also a number of predefined charts available, including total units by year and events by type by year.

For additional details on the classification schemes used in the database, please see the Codebook