Data Scientist for Gobierto Contracts

Remote (Spain), onsite (Madrid), or mixed

About Populate

We are a design and tech consultancy building digital products around civic engagement. We are hiring for Gobierto Contracts, which is our main focus right now: a tool to help public administrations control, plan and research about their contracting activity. Read El por qué de Gobierto Contratación: hacer más eficiente la contratación pública (spanish) about our motivation for building this tool — making public spending more efficient, nothing less!

During the last 12 months we’d have a pretty sweet customer discovery process, talking with tens of organizations to understand where their pains are. Now, a typical product presentation ends up with a “I want this now” (being “now” in the public administration land a process of many months… :D)

We have landed the first clients and have very exciting prospects for the coming months.

We value

  • open: source, data, knowledge
  • balance: design your work schedule around your life, not the other way round
  • communication: remote-first approach. Good & orderly written communication > meetings > real time interruptions
  • quality: pride in process and results
  • independence: responsibility for your own work, not micromanaging

The job

One of Gobierto Contracts’ parts is a global search engine of tenders and contracts extracted from public sources. There are some many insights that can be extracted from this data, but hardly no one is doing it. We want to put this data to work to improve public spending on different dimensions (efficiency, control, transparency…). Some of the tasks:

  • Data extraction: from structured sources and not structured ones (web pages, PDFs). We already have many data ingestion processes running, you’ll help improve them if needed.
  • Quality control of data: we have started to build some automated checks to validate the quality of new data. You’ll help consolidate and improve it.
  • Data cleaning: you know the drill :)
  • Data analysis and exploratory visualizations to build, communicate and reason about hipothesis
  • Prediction and clasification: we have already built some initial models to predict the number of offers a tender will receive. We want to do many other things in this front. Predict prices, discounts, detect possible frauds…
  • Entity extraction: we have tons of PDFs with unstructured content (companies, concepts, contract clauses…). Once we have extracted them, many important products can be built.

And many other challenges that will appear along the way. We’ll start bit by bit and grow the team which you may end up managing (if that’s something you’d want, that is).

We use Jenkins to automate tasks. We are a Ruby On Rails shop, so some Ruby knowledge would be ideal, but we understand you’ll be using Python and the usual suspects.

You’ll also be contributing from time to time to Gobierto Transparency, our open source solution for transparency and accountability initiatives.

We work on Github using a git workflow with CI/CD, tests, different automations… Our workflow has been polished throughout a few years, so have automated many things (monitoring, error tracking, server setups & updates, deployments, various checks…). You can take a look at the Gobierto repo to see how we actually work.

Day to day work

  • Plan analyze and suggest new analysis over the data
  • Implement your scripts and visualizations, prepare notebooks
  • Present results to the team, review suggestions and iterate

Your first week

(in no particular order)

  • Meet the team!
  • Set up your tools, install Gobierto
  • Browse our internal doc wiki to check out how we work, where to find things, etc.
  • Browse around in our general issue tracker (Github)
  • Get assigned initial issues to navigate around our development process: tests, deploy, code reviews…

Your first month

  • You understand Gobierto contratos data model
  • You are tasked with some small projects
  • A project has been released and is in production, adding value to the product

Your first year

  • You are Responsible of data in Populate
  • Our workflows and pipelines are more mature
  • Creating new data projects is a smooth process
  • Data analysis has been used in different projects, not only Gobierto Contratos
  • You have deployed different ML models

This role is for you if…

  • You want to work on meaningful projects around civic engagement, open data, participation and accountability
  • Have solid experience with data: extracting, cleaning, analyzing, visualizing, building models…
  • Master SQL
  • Are familiar with PostgreSQL, Git, Linux systems, the Unix shell
  • Are looking for a stable job in a rewarding environment, with mission-driven projects, where you’ll spend your next few years
  • Value a work environment which strives for excellence, from process to results, from design to code
  • Enjoy working in a small team interested in understanding and contributing to our different systems (code, tools, processes)
  • Prioritize understanding and analyzing problems to come up with effective solutions
  • Value clean code with good abstractions and good communication skills both in the code and in the submitted PRs
  • Understand and value testing and have been doing this systematically in recent times
  • Enjoy hacking in the Unix shell to automate tasks
  • You are interested in open data, free software, data visualization
  • You are fluent in written and spoken English
  • Bonus track: You are familiar with Ruby/Ruby On Rails


  • Remote, mixed or onsite: some of us works regularly in our sunny Madrid office, others are fully remote, others mix. You are free to choose your place of work.
  • Flexible schedule and hours: You design your work schedule around your life, not the other way round.
  • Events: We get together a few time a years to work (when COVID allows), share and have fun
  • Choose your hardware & software: Linux, Mac… your choice
  • Education & Conferences stipend 1.200 € per year
  • Indefinite contract

The salary

Up to 50.000 € depending on experience, with a 5-10% yearly bonus according to your performance and company results. Yearly salary revisions.

We are not the latest giga-funded startup with the mission to change the world of * (really, in those startups they are changing the world about anything!) so we won’t match top paying equivalent jobs in Spain.

We are building an independent, self-financed, sustainable company with the objective of being in business for many years working on projects we believe in and that we think make the world a better place, bit by bit. Projects that are respectful with people and don’t prioritize revenue over everything.

We are growing the business and aim to pay as best as we can. We look forward to growing with you: you’ll join a place that we are all defining together so it’s the best possible place to work we can imagine of: Interesting projects, intelligent people, with stimulating challenges, that provides good work-life balance and freedom to organize your schedule. You’ll contribute to delivering projects with more efficiency so we can grow faster.

Hiring process

  • You take some time to write the application (two questions to show your motivations on the role)
  • We look at the work you have done and some code samples (bonus points if it’s on open source repos)
  • We do a short chat over the phone. Do a longer one if everything is fine
  • If we want you to join us, we’ll make a salary proposal
  • Paid project:
    • we want to test the relationship before committing full time so we (you and us) are sure it’s a good fit. Changing jobs is stressful and time consuming and we don’t want to lose anybody’s time.
    • we’ll propose a project of around 20-40 hours so you can combine it with your current job. We agree on the fee and you complete it when you can, without stress (2-3 weeks, but we are flexible and we can define an agreement based on personal circumstances)
    • alternately, you can do this project in the office
    • we pay you this project, no matter what
  • If project is OK, everything is ready ;)

Interesed? Apply

We'll only consider applications that take the time to answer all questions ;)

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