Insights of a governmental approach to #OpenData
Open data and the efforts of governmental institutions to find ways to make their data accessible have been around for a while. The Hellenic Ministry of Administrative Reconstruction, Greece, one of the partners in the YourDataStories project, has been part of this process for a few years now. In this guest contribution, Andreas Dimitriou, explains, how the Ministry tackles the challenges of open data.
1. Prior to the reform
The 2003/98/EC directive was integrated in the Greek legal framework through Law 3448/2006 on further use of public sector information. Since then efforts were undertaken to raise awareness on public administration entities and civil servants on open data policies. Despite these efforts though (that included the implementation of www.data.gov.gr, the main data repository of the Greek public administration), the results were poor. The independent and fragmented initiatives on opening government data were doomed to fail, due to lack of coordination and strategy at central level.
2. Acknowledgement of open data policy value
The importance of developing an open data policy was not obvious in the beginning. The first attempts on opening government data proved beyond any doubt that the implementation of an open data policy should constitute a priority in the Greek Public Administration. This policy should serve two main purposes: first of all, to enhance transparency and accountability of the public sector by making public sector data available and easily accessible. Secondly, to boost the economic growth by contributing to the creation of new jobs and encouraging investment in data-driven sectors, by using open data as raw material to develop value–added services.
In line with the aforementioned purposes, open data in public sector bear significant benefits both for public administration and for citizens and enterprises. The benefits for public administration are, among others, the reduction of administrative burdens, the re-use of information as well as the positive impact on GDP and tax revenue by the increase of the economic activity. Similarly, the main benefits for citizens are the increase of transparency and accountability, the boost of RnD and the creation of new enterprises and job positions.
3. Open data policy reform: The current legislative framework and implementation
In October 2014, Law 4305/2016 was voted. It provides a concrete set of provisions on open data and further use of public sector datasets, in accordance with the revised EU Directive (2013/37/ΕU of the European Parliament and of the Council).
The vast majority of public entities fall under the scope of Law 4305/2014: Ministries, Independent Authorities, Regions and Municipalities and other public law entities. Specific exceptions were set to safeguard sensitive data (classified information, protection of personal information, information held by educational and research institutions).
Key features of the law are:
- The “open by default” principle is established
- Each public entity is obliged to issue a decision on the classification of the datasets it owns, so as to be able to proceed on the second stage (uploading datasets to the web platform www.data.gov.gr) through a uniform process. The right to free access to public data is established in case the public entities are behind schedule
- Simplification of administrative and judiciary procedures in cases where requests for data are rejected
- The National Open Data Portal (data.gov.gr) was officially established as the main repository of the data of the Greek public administration.
- The scope of the Law was extended both to entities as well as to new categories of data (Independent Authorities, Libraries and Records)
- Many innovative elements were introduced such as:
- annual competition (hackathon) for the use of open data by the civil society
- excellence prize for public entities
- Annual report submitted to the Greek Parliament regarding open data policy implementation (the first report is accessible here)
The Ministry of Administrative Reconstruction is responsible for the implementation of the open data policy in the Greek public administration. Within this context after a major redesign of the data.gov.gr portal, an effort is being made to enrich the repository with new data sets owned by various competent authorities, aiming at creating a critical mass of available datasets.
4. Results – Qualitative and Quantitative dimensions
As of February 6th 2017, 140 entities have uploaded 3.622 datasets in www.data.gov.gr, (compared to about 47 datasets in July 2015).
|Categories||No. of Datasets|
Independent Authorities – Inspectorate Bodies
On the qualitative categorization of data, the majority of datasets come from the internal procedures of Public Administration. However, datasets on high added value categories such as Statistics, Geodata, Transport, Economy, Employment and Health, show a promising increase.
5. Overall Assessment
By reviewing the main elements of open data policy in Greece, focusing on the recent developments and actions undertaken by the Ministry, the following conclusions can be drawn:
- The revised institutional framework is a concrete, innovative scheme, in full compliance to EU policy and international practice.
- The Ministry adopted a series of actions to diffuse the policy and make the obligations deriving from the legal framework well known. However, the quantitative and qualitative analyses present limited response by the entities on implementing the open data policy.
Four main areas for improvement have been identified along with actions to address them:
- Identification and further activation of Public Sector Entities of major importance: Ministries, Local Governments, and Public Entities with value- added datasets (e.g. in public transport). Overall, to establish an open data oriented culture in the Public Administration, as an integral part of everyday procedures.
- Participation of Civil Society: Enhance cooperation in areas such as open standards, content, hardware and software, the co-organization of hackathons and research programs.
- Promote the reuse of open data both by the private and public sector: Design specific communication and training actions, such as customized working groups, organization of contests and stimulating motivation.
- Evaluating economic potential: Taking into account the unfavorable fiscal conditions in Greece it is important to evaluate the economic potential of open data. To this end, we are in the process of developing a proper methodological framework adjusted to the Greek case.