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Tag Archive: open government partnership

Where’s the G8 Open Data Charter Action Plan?

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G8 FlickrEarlier this year the United States, along with the other G8 countries, signed on to an Open Data Charter. The document represented a high-level, international commitment to open data and transparency. It committed G8 countries to five important open data principles, including making open data the default. The document required signatories to release action plans for implementing the Charter by the end of October. Thanks to a tip from our friends at the German chapter of the Open Knowledge Foundation we've found that, so far, only Britain and Italy have released their full plans (Japan has a draft plan available). There has been no talk, that we can find, about the U.S. action plan.

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OGP: Opportunities and Limitations

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OGP2It’s been two years since the Open Government Partnership (OGP) was first announced. As Sunlight shares recommendations for the US’s OGP National Action Plan, we’re looking forward to attending and participating in the upcoming summit in London. OGP has demonstrated explosive growth, with the initial 8 founding countries expanding to 60 in a very short time, and more likely to be announced soon. This rapid expansion is an affirmation of government officials’ desire to grapple with transparency issues, and demonstrates an appetite -- particularly from the public --  for “open government” and making it more accessible to the people it serves. OGP has been important in helping governments move in that direction, particularly Brazil’s passing a new FOI law and the US committing to implement the EITI. OGP itself has been quite open in discussing its limitations, and no doubt there will be more of that at the next meeting. But it’s important, in advance of the upcoming summit, to offer a few observations about OGP’s structural limitations to provide context for the new national action plans.

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Suggestions for the OGP National Action Plan

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OGP

The Obama Administration is expected to release the second version of its Open Government Partnership National Action Plan this fall.  The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is the primary multi-national initiative for open government, founded in 2011. The original US plan, released on September 20, 2011, covered a lot of ground, but also suffered a lack of detail and ignored several of the most pressing transparency issues. (Both money in politics and national security went uncovered.)

Given the US’s leadership role in the world (and in OGP), and the variety of issues the country faces, we hope the US National Action Plan will demonstrate how an administration can use transparency reform to help address some of the most fundamental challenges it faces.

The following are four Sunlight priorities for the upcoming US National Action Plan, and are priorities that we’ve often repeated to White House officials in our work.

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Why Kenya’s open data portal is failing – and why it can still succeed

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Kenya’s open data portal is floundering. Despite the excitement that surrounded its launch in July 2011, the portal has not been updated in eight months, has seen stagnant traffic, and is quickly losing its status as the symbolic leader of open government in Africa. For a number of reasons, the portal, which runs on a Socrata platform and can be viewed here, has not lived up to the often sky-high expectations of many onlookers. Kenya portal First, government ministries have been reluctant to release data. Many observers expected that the launch of the portal would help eradicate the Kenyan government’s harmful culture of secrecy. The Official Secrets Act, a holdover from the colonial era that prevents government employees from sharing official information, has created a closed culture in government and has starved the portal of much needed information. Second, implementation of the new constitution has hamstrung government officials who are trying to adjust to new roles and identify new responsibilities, significantly reducing government officials’ ability to incorporate open data into their already overburdened workstreams. The new Kenyan constitution, which was overwhelmingly passed in a 2010 referendum, created a new devolved system of government. Large changes are still being implemented, and government officials are struggling to adjust. This inexhaustive list displays some of the large obstacles standing between the open data portal and the goals of a more transparent, accountable, and effective government. Despite these challenges, there is still hope that Kenya’s open data experiment can regain its footing and reestablish itself as an open government leader.

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OpenGov Voices: Open Data in Latin America: Here to stay

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the guest blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and Fabriziodo not reflect the opinions of the Sunlight Foundation or any employee thereof. Sunlight Foundation is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information within the guest blog. Fabrizio Scrollini is currently working on a PhD on transparency and accountability in Latin America at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He co-founded DATAuy which supports Quesabes -- the first website in Uruguay that helps citizens request for public information from their government. DATAuy has also championed open government, open parliament, and transparency in Uruguay by collaborating with other NGOs in the region and organizing hackathons. Two weeks ago Uruguay, a small Latin American country, had the pleasure of hosting open data and transparency activists from different corners of Latin America and the world for the first Latin American open data unconference. ABRELATAM (named after a plan on the Spanish word “abrelatas,” which means can opener), was organized by DATA Uruguay and Ciudadano Inteligente from Chile in a pioneer partnership to advance transparency and open data in the region. In this post I would like to share with you a snapshot of the awesome discussions that took place at the ABRELATAM. Uruguay TCamp 1Community matters. This is hardly a surprise but community can mean different things. Indeed people are interested in open data for all sorts of reasons, but when it comes to a particular area or group of datasets, and the aim is social change, the need for different skills and common goals becomes crucial. Some of the greatest sessions were about how to link the different worlds of technology, communication, policy and social problem solving. Open data (or the lack of it) is sometimes a great excuse to put minds together working to achieve better outcomes. People working together (not just data) will deliver change, and this is done online, but offline engagement is crucial as well. Communities need to be expanded to involve more people and organizations who can also help to promote open data and use it for their own ends.

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How Unique is the New U.S. Open Data Policy?

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The White House’s new Executive Order may be significantly different than the open data policies that have come before it on the federal level, but where does it stand in a global -- and local -- context? Many folks have already jumped at the chance to compare this new US executive order and the new policies that accompany it to a similar public letter issued by UK Prime Minister David Cameron in 2010, but little attention has been paid to one of the new policy’s most substantial provisions: the creation of a public listing of agency data based on an internal audits of information holdings. As administrative as this provision might sound, the creation of this listing (and the accompanying scoping of what information isn’t yet public, but could be released) is part of the next evolution of open data policies (and something Sunlight has long called for as a best practice). So does this policy put the U.S. on the leading edge?

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Open Data Executive Order Shows Path Forward

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cords Today, the White House is issuing a new Executive Order on Open Data -- one that is significantly different from the open data policies that have come before it -- reflecting Sunlight's persistent call for stronger public listings of agency data, and demonstrating a new path forward for governments committing to open data. This Executive Order and the new policies that accompany it cover a lot of ground, building public reporting systems, adding new goals, creating new avenues for public participation, and laying out new principles for openness, much of which can be found in Sunlight's extensive Open Data Policy Guidelines, and the work of our friends and allies. Most importantly, though, the new policies take on one of the most important, trickiest questions that these policies face -- how can we reset the default to openness when there is so much data? How can we take on managing and releasing all the government's data, or as much as possible, without negotiating over every dataset the government has?

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