PRINCIPLE 5 — For Improved Governance and Citizen Engagement
Authors: Arturo Muente-Kunigami | Reviewers: Ana Brandusescu, Danny Lämmerhirt
Principle 5 is about the use of open data to improve the relationship between and within government and citizens. It involves transparency and accountability of public officials, but also the promotion of active citizen participation and engagement in the design, monitoring and evaluation of public policies, including open data itself.
In Mexico, Mejora tu Escuela (Improve Your School) is “an online platform that provides citizens with information about school performance. It helps parents choose the best option for their children, empowers them to demand higher-quality education, and gives them tools to get involved in their children’s schooling. It also provides school administrators, policymakers and NGOs with data to identify areas requiring improvement and hotbeds of corruption, in the process raising the overall quality of education in Mexico.”
Commitment P5.a, “Implement oversight and review processes to report regularly to the public on the progress and impact of our open data initiatives”, is measured by ODB, EODMA, and OURdata. Indicators address the existence of case studies (from research reports to news articles), whether initiatives have been launched to monitor the political impact of data, or whether government promotes use cases of open data. Currently, both ODB and the EODMA include questions that refer to the regular updating of progress to the public.
Commitment P5.b, “Ensure that information published as a result of transparency or anti-corruption laws is released as open data”, is indirectly measured by ODB, EODMA, and OURdata. Indicators assess if a right to information exists which allows data requests to be processed, or whether freedom of information requests are being answered. It must be noted that this commitment strictly refers to local transparency and anti-corruption laws.
Commitment P5.c, “Provide training programs, tools, and guidelines designed to ensure government employees are capable of using open data effectively in policy development processes”, is measured by ODB and OURdata. Indicators assess this commitment from different angles, assessing whether a government requires trainings with civil servants, whether trainings are actually provided, how many trainings are provided (quantity), or whether guidelines exist on how to use open data in policy development. Currently, OURdata assesses whether government provides open data trainings to public officials, although it is not clear whether the training is aimed at using open data effectively in policy development processes.
Commitment P5.d, “Engage with the Freedom of Information / Access to Information / Right to Information community to align the proactive release of open data with governments’ obligation to release information on request”, is indirectly measured by ODB. The relevant indicator assesses whether a country has a well-functioning right to information or freedom of information law, and whether this law also foresees a right to data with the obligation to publish data proactively as open by default (with some reasonable security and privacy exceptions) and sets requirements on formats for the disclosure of information that enable a general right to reuse. However, to understand how well aligned this is with the commitment, more clarity is needed on what “align” means and who should be included in the “FOI community”
Commitment P5.e, “Engage proactively with citizens and civil society and private sector representatives to determine what data they need to effectively hold governments accountable”, is measured in different ways by ODB and OURdata. Indicators assess whether third-parties enrich open data with other data, whether coordinated engagement campaigns exist, whether government organizes outreach events, the frequency of focus groups with key users, or whether government establishes formal partnerships with third-parties to use data.
Commitment P5.f, “Respect citizens’ right to freedom of expression by protecting those who use open data to identify corruption or criticize governments”, is measured by ODB (including ODB secondary data). The relevant indicator requires further definition of what “protecting” means. For example, does this commitment refer to legal protection or to the enforcement of such protection by the government? ODB has a specific question related to this, checking whether the “right to freedom of expression is also respected by protecting those who use open data to identify corruption or criticize governments”.
Commitment P5.g, “Encourage the use of open data to develop innovative, evidence-based policy solutions that benefit all members of society, as well as empower marginalized communities”, is measured by ODB, OURdata, and EODMA, and can only partially be measured, due to its broad scope. Available indicators measure whether governments organize events or projects to use data to the benefit of marginalised groups, whether peer-reviewed studies exist evidencing the benefits of open data for marginalised groups, or whether open data has contributed to the inclusion of marginalised groups towards a range of specific goals.