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Canada

Open Government Community (CA0073)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Canada Action Plan 2018-2020

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Canada School of Public Service (CSPS); International Development Research Centre (IDRC) through Open Data for Development (OD4D); Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS); partners in provincial, territorial, and municipal governments across Canada

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

Access to Information, Capacity Building, E-Government, Gender, Marginalized Communities, Open Data

IRM Review

IRM Report: Canada Design Report 2018-2020

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

Open government community
Issue to be addressed
As the global open government movement has matured in recent years, we have increasingly
recognized that open government initiatives have the potential to transform the lives of
citizens. But these efforts can be vulnerable to changes in political leadership and competing
government priorities. For open government to be sustainable, we need to make efforts to
foster a strong, cohesive community across Canada and around the world that can continue to
push for ambitious reforms in all levels of government.
Greater collaboration across the open government community can also lead to more effective
work, as good practices and lessons learned can be shared to help others identify challenges
and opportunities.
As lead government co-chair of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), Canada has an
unprecedented opportunity to convene and support the open government community around
the world and here at home.
Commitment
The Government of Canada will demonstrate leadership at home and abroad, working with
partners in government, civil society, and the private sector to share lessons learned and
support a collaborative approach to align and advance open government efforts. In particular,
we will:
• launch an ambitious strategy as co-chair of the OGP Steering Committee, in partnership
with its civil society co-chair, Nathaniel Heller of Results for Development
• help to advance the responsible release and use of open data in OGP countries
• support international events to drive peer learning and measure open government
impact internationally
• build capacity for governments worldwide to design more inclusive open government
initiatives
• strengthen collaboration with other governments in Canada through the Canada Open
Government Working Group, and expand the working group to include representatives
of national municipal organizations
Lead department(s)
Canada School of Public Service (CSPS); International Development Research Centre (IDRC)
through Open Data for Development (OD4D); Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS);
partners in provincial, territorial, and municipal governments across Canada
Milestones
44
What will we do? How we will know we succeeded? What is our
deadline?
10.1 Demonstrate global
leadership during Canada’s
term as lead government
co-chair of the OGP Steering
Committee
(TBS)
A co-chair strategy, co-created with our
civil society co-chair, and developed in
collaboration with governments and civil
society (both domestic and
internationally), is published and
assessed quarterly in January, April, July,
and October 2019
Strategy
published
October 2018
Commitments
fulfilled by
June 2020
Canada hosts an OGP summit in
spring 2019 that showcases open
government to a domestic and
international audience
Spring 2019
10.2 Support the OGP Thematic
Partnership on Open Data,
helping to advance the
responsible release and use of
open data in OGP countries
(IDRC)
The Open Data for Development
Network, hosted at the International
Development Research Centre (IDRC) and
supported by Global Affairs Canada, will:
Provide technical support to 10 OGP
governments and civil society in
developing countries for implementing
open data commitments
June 2020
Support research and innovative
initiatives on the availability and use of
open data for better service delivery,
gender equality, inclusion, progress on
the Sustainable Development Goals, or
transparency and accountability in
10 countries
June 2020
10.3 Support international
events to drive peer learning
and measure open government
and open data impact
internationally
(IDRC/TBS)
Co-hosted the International Open Data
Conference 2018 in Buenos Aires,
Argentina
September 2018
Independent global assessments on the
status of open data are supported around
the world in a State of Open Data report
and through the next edition of the Open
Data Barometer
July 2019
45
What will we do? How we will know we succeeded? What is our
deadline?
Canada has participated in at least
2 bilateral peer learning events and at
least 3 international forums, and included
language on open government in at least
3 international declarations
June 2020
10.4 Build capacity for more
feminist open government
initiatives worldwide
(IDRC)
An international coalition has been
established that will work to make open
government processes more inclusive.
This group releases an Action Plan with
commitments and progress markers
May 2019
Research is funded in various regions to
contributes to an evidence base for the
impact of gender equality in open
government on public service delivery
December 2018
A synthesis publication is released and
shared, with future actions and
recommendations outlined
May 2019
10.5 Building on current
collaboration between the
Governments of Canada and
Alberta, extend federated open
data search pilot to additional
provinces and onboard at least
2 municipalities
(TBS)
Government of Canada has federated
open data with at least 2 additional
provinces and 2 municipalities
May 2019 to
onboard
2 provinces
May 2020 to
onboard
2 municipalities
10.6 Implement a pilot project
to move toward
cross-jurisdictional common
data standards in line with the
International Open Data
Charter and other international
standards
(TBS)
Cross-jurisdictional metadata mapping is
completed with a common set of core
elements
February 2019
A pilot project to standardize 5 high-value
datasets across jurisdictions from among
the list of high value datasets previously
identified by the Canada Open
Government Working Group is completed
September 2019
46
What will we do? How we will know we succeeded? What is our
deadline?
At least 5 more subnational governments
in Canada have adopted the Open Data
Charter
May 2020
10.7 Promote data literacy and
management for public
servants within all levels of
government
(CSPS/TBS)
Data literacy and management resources
have been identified and are made
available to government employees
September 2019
10 data literacy events are held to
promote employees skills in open data
May 2020

IRM Midterm Status Summary

10. Open Government Community

The Government of Canada will demonstrate leadership at home and abroad, working with partners in government, civil society, and the private sector to share lessons learned and support a collaborative approach to align and advance open government efforts. In particular, we will:

  • launch an ambitious strategy as co-chair of the OGP Steering Committee, in partnership with its civil society co-chair, Nathaniel Heller of Results for Development
  • help to advance the responsible release and use of open data in OGP countries
  • support international events to drive peer learning and measure open government impact internationally
  • build capacity for governments worldwide to design more inclusive open government initiatives
  • strengthen collaboration with other governments in Canada through the Canada Open Government Working Group, and expand the working group to include representatives of national municipal organizations

Milestones

10.1 Demonstrate global leadership during Canada’s term as lead government co-chair of the OGP Steering Committee (Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat)

10.2 Support the OGP Thematic Partnership on Open Data, helping to advance the responsible release and use of open data in OGP countries (International Development Research Centre)

10.3 Support international events to drive peer learning and measure open government and open data impact internationally (International Development Research Centre / Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat)

10.4 Build capacity for more feminist open government initiatives worldwide (International Development Research Centre)

10.5 Building on current collaboration between the Governments of Canada and Alberta, extend federated open data search pilot to additional provinces and onboard at least 2 municipalities (Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat)

10.6 Implement a pilot project to move toward cross-jurisdictional common data standards in line with the International Open Data Charter and other international standards (Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat)

10.7 Promote data literacy and management for public servants within all levels of government (Canada School of Public Service / Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat)

For more details about the commitment text, milestones, self-identified success criteria, and estimated completion dates see, https://open.canada.ca/en/content/canadas-2018-2020-national-action-plan-open-government#toc3-4

Start Date: August 2019

End Date: Varies according to milestone

Commitment Overview

Verifiability

OGP Value Relevance (as written)

Potential Impact

Completion

Did It Open Government?

Not specific enough to be verifiable

Specific enough to be verifiable

Access to Information

Civic Participation

Public Accountability

Technology & Innovation for Transparency & Accountability

None

Minor

Moderate

Transformative

Not Started

Limited

Substantial

Completed

Worsened

Did Not Change

Marginal

Major

Outstanding

1. Overall

Assessed at the end of action plan cycle.

Assessed at the end of action plan cycle.

Context and Objectives

This commitment ostensibly is a continuation of Commitment 21 from Canada’s third action plan and maintains much of that commitment’s outward-facing orientation. [81] Emphasis is placed on promoting and supporting open government community- and capacity-building initiatives around the world and domestically. The activities presented in the self-identified success criteria align with the pledge specified in the Open Government Declaration to, “lead by example and contribute to advancing open government in other countries by sharing best practices and expertise.” [82] However, no information is provided about the current state of affairs prior to the commitment’s launch nor the targeted change that is meant to emerge from the commitment’s implementation

As the lead government co-chair of the OGP, it is not unexpected that the GoC would include a commitment aimed at demonstrating its open government leadership. However, the efficacy of this commitment is tempered by a lack of precision about the impacts it seeks to achieve and the means by which the impacts will be measured. Similar concerns were received in comments posted on google docs about the July-August 2018 draft commitment. As one contributor put it: [83]

It would be good to have a definition of the problem - the words below describe process/solutions. What are the problems of not collaborating? A lack of shared standards which causes something bad? Waste/duplication? Delay? How much money is/will be wasted if we don’t collaborate? Why did Canadians want the GC to show leadership? We tend to recycle things that are in process but if we have more precise questions, we can then assess if the commitment and plans are relevant.

The IRM researcher also notes that milestone10.4 was not included in the original draft commitment. It was added after the comment period closed, and in the absence of any comments/suggestions alluding to its scope and content. The milestone also was not vetted by the MSF’s civil society members prior to its incorporation into the action plan.

The commitment broadly aligns with the OGP value of Access to Information insofar as two of the seven milestones – 10.4 and 10.5 – align with this value. Both involve making publicly available research results about the impact of gender equality in open government on public service delivery, and working to transparently map federal, provincial, and municipal open data systems into a federated database. Based on the value definitions provided in the IRM Procedures Manual, it is unclear how the other five milestones, as written, align with any of the four OGP values. Equally ambiguous, and as queried in comments posted to July-August 2018 draft commitment, is whether a connection is meant to, or should, be present between the “pilot project to move toward cross-jurisdictional common data standards” specified in milestone 10.6 the proposed “cross-jurisdictional work on spending data (under the Financial transparency commitment)?[84]

Milestones 10.5 and 10.6 are both easily verifiable (i.e., either the proposed activity takes place, or it does not). Milestones 10.1, 10.2, 10.3, 10.4, and 10.7 require some degree of interpretation with regard to their measurability. The validity of the success criteria (i.e., do they actually measure/reflect what they claim to measure?) specified for milestones 10.1, 10.2, 10.3, and 10.7 is dubious not least because in each instance the indicators of success refer to actions/activities whose completion offer no clear indication that the desired outcome has occurred. For example, the proposed action for milestone 10.2 is “to support the OGP Thematic Partnership on Open Data helping to advance the responsible release and use of open data in OGP countries” and each of the three indicators of success refer to initiatives to be supported.

In the absence of benchmarks and indicators the extent to which completing the milestones is contributing to supporting ongoing efforts at supporting open government community- and capacity-building will remain unclear. In addition, the apprehensions expressed in the IRM’s Canada Progress Report 2016-2017 [85] about the appropriateness of including externally-focused work in a national action plan remain unchanged:

there remains a question as to whether externally-focused work should be included in Canada’s action plan, since impact on open government in Canada will be negligible. This is an appropriate approach to Canada’s foreign aid planning, which should target external goals rather than prioritising projects which benefit Canadians. However, it is unclear whether this is the right approach for an open government action plan commitment (Pp. 86-87).

In the light of the evidence presented above, Commitment 10 is assessed as having a minor potential impact on open government in Canada.

Next steps

Domestic and international open government community- and capacity-building is central the OGP’s mission, not least because the mutual support and learning it offers to members. Identifying the most effective mechanisms and channels for ensuring such efforts are having a demonstrable impact on the public good is contingent upon having in place appropriate benchmarks and indicators for measuring success and failures. Paradoxically, the definitions provided in the IRM Procedures Manual regarding its evaluation indicators mitigate against assessing open government community-building efforts that reach beyond domestic borders as being relevant to OGP values. Therefore, within the context of Canada’s national action plan it would be optimal for its internationally-oriented community- and capacity-building initiatives to be constructed around clearly delineated challenges, issues, or problems with which Canadians also must contend or for which a connection to domestic considerations of transparency, accountability, and citizen engagement is present.

Recognising the seeming failure of those responsible for drafting this commitment to heed the recommendations advanced in previous Canada IRM reports regarding internationally focused work, the IRM researcher reiterates the recommendation of his predecessor regarding this matter. When participating in international engagements within the context of an OGP national action plan the intended returns of such obligations need to be clearly explained in precise detail and accompanied with pertinent indicators for measuring success.

[81] Third Biennial Plan to the Open Government Partnership (2016-18). http://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/Canada_AP3.pdf
[84] Ibid.,

Commitments

  1. User-Friendly Open Government

    CA0064, 2018, Access to Information

  2. Financial Transparency and Accountability

    CA0065, 2018, Access to Information

  3. Corporate Transparency

    CA0066, 2018, Anti-Corruption

  4. Digital Government and Services

    CA0067, 2018, Automated Decision-Making

  5. Open Science

    CA0068, 2018, Access to Information

  6. Healthy Democracy

    CA0069, 2018, Anti-Corruption

  7. Access to Information

    CA0070, 2018, Access to Information

  8. Feminist and Inclusive Dialogue

    CA0071, 2018, Capacity Building

  9. Reconciliation and Open Government

    CA0072, 2018, Access to Information

  10. Open Government Community

    CA0073, 2018, Access to Information

  11. Enhance Access to Information

    CA0042, 2016, Access to Information

  12. Streamline Requests for Personal Information

    CA0043, 2016, E-Government

  13. Expand and Improve Open Data

    CA0044, 2016, Access to Information

  14. Provide and Preserve Open Information

    CA0045, 2016, E-Government

  15. Define an Approach for Measuring Open Government Performance

    CA0046, 2016, Capacity Building

  16. Develop Open Government Skills Across the Federal Public Service

    CA0047, 2016, Access to Information

  17. Embed Transparency Requirements in the Federal Service Strategy

    CA0048, 2016, Capacity Building

  18. Enhance Access to Culture & Heritage Collections

    CA0049, 2016, Capacity Building

  19. Enhance Openness of Information on Government Spending and Procurement

    CA0050, 2016, Capacity Building

  20. Increase Transparency of Budget and Other Department of Finance Information

    CA0051, 2016, Capacity Building

  21. Starred commitment Increase Transparency of Grants and Contributions Funding

    CA0052, 2016, Capacity Building

  22. Improve Public Information on Canadian Corporations

    CA0053, 2016, E-Government

  23. Increase the Availability and Usability of Geospatial Data

    CA0054, 2016, Access to Information

  24. Increase Openness of Federal Science Activities (Open Science)

    CA0055, 2016, Capacity Building

  25. Stimulate Innovation through Canada’s Open Data Exchange (ODX)

    CA0056, 2016, Access to Information

  26. Align Open Data Across Canada (Open Data Canada)

    CA0057, 2016, Access to Information

  27. Implement the Extractives Sector Transparency Measures Act

    CA0058, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  28. Support Openness and Transparency Initiatives Around the World

    CA0059, 2016, Access to Information

  29. Engage Civil Society on Open Government

    CA0060, 2016, Public Participation

  30. Enable Open Dialogue and Open Policy Making

    CA0061, 2016, Capacity Building

  31. Promote Open Government Globally

    CA0062, 2016, Access to Information

  32. Engage Canadians to Improve Key Canada Revenue Agency Services

    CA0063, 2016, Access to Information

  33. Implement Directive on Open Government

    CA0030, 2014, Access to Information

  34. Starred commitment Open Data Canada

    CA0031, 2014, Access to Information

  35. Canadian Open Data Exchange (ODX)

    CA0032, 2014, Access to Information

  36. Open Data for Development

    CA0033, 2014, Access to Information

  37. Open Data Core Commitment

    CA0034, 2014, Access to Information

  38. Starred commitment Open Science

    CA0035, 2014, Public Participation

  39. Starred commitment Mandatory Reporting on Extractives

    CA0036, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  40. Open Contracting

    CA0037, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  41. Open Information on Budgets and Expenditures

    CA0038, 2014, Fiscal Openness

  42. Digital Literacy

    CA0039, 2014, Capacity Building

  43. Open Information Core Commitment

    CA0040, 2014, Access to Information

  44. Consulting Canadians

    CA0041, 2014, Marginalized Communities

  45. Starred commitment International Aid Transparency Initiative: Publish Plan to Make CIDA Activities Available and Accessible

    CA0010, 2012, Aid

  46. International Aid Transparency Initiative: Implement Plan

    CA0011, 2012, Aid

  47. Opening Government of Canada Records: Increase Access to Archived Federal Documents at Library and Archives Canada

    CA0012, 2012, Records Management

  48. Opening Government of Canada Records: Issue New Mandatory Policy on Document Classification

    CA0013, 2012, Records Management

  49. Opening Government of Canada Records: Make Classified Information Available Online

    CA0014, 2012, E-Government

  50. GCDOCS: Deploy Wave One of Electronic Record and Document Management Solution

    CA0015, 2012, E-Government

  51. GCDOCS: Deploy Across Federal Government

    CA0016, 2012, E-Government

  52. GCWEB: Develop Consolidated Web Presence

    CA0017, 2012, E-Government

  53. GCWEB: Implement New Platform

    CA0018, 2012, E-Government

  54. Data.Gc.Ca: Expand Number of Datasets Available

    CA0019, 2012, Access to Information

  55. Data.Gc.Ca: Implement Data.Gc.Ca Portal

    CA0020, 2012, Access to Information

  56. Data.Gc.Ca: Improve Standardization of Data

    CA0021, 2012, Access to Information

  57. Government of Canada Resource Management Data: Publish Resource Management and Performance Data

    CA0022, 2012, Access to Information

  58. Government of Canada Resource Management Data: Enhance Search and Data Tools

    CA0023, 2012, Access to Information

  59. Consulting Canadians: Develop New Platform for Consultation

    CA0024, 2012, E-Government

  60. Consulting Canadians: Develop Standard Approach to Use of Social Media

    CA0025, 2012, E-Government

  61. Consulting Canadians: Pilot a Crowdsourcing Initiative

    CA0026, 2012, E-Government

  62. Consulting Canadians: Enable Use of Common Online Tools

    CA0027, 2012, E-Government

  63. Open Regulation: Federal Regulators to Post Forward Regulatory Plans

    CA0028, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  64. Open Regulation: Simplify Engagement Activities

    CA0029, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  65. Open Government Directive: Issue Directive on Open Government

    CA0001, 2012, E-Government

  66. Open Government Directive: Implement Directive on Open Government

    CA0002, 2012, E-Government

  67. Starred commitment Open Government Licence: Issue Open Government Licence

    CA0003, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  68. Starred commitment Open Government Licence: Adopt Open Government Licence

    CA0004, 2012,

  69. Modernising Administration of Access to Information: Pilot of Online Request and Payment Service

    CA0005, 2012, Access to Information

  70. Modernising Administration of Access to Information: Implement ATI Solution

    CA0006, 2012, Access to Information

  71. Modernising Administration of Access to Information: Make Completed ATI Request Summaries Searchable

    CA0007, 2012, Access to Information

  72. Virtual Library: Begin Design of Virtual Library

    CA0008, 2012, E-Government

  73. Virtual Library: Launch Virtual Library

    CA0009, 2012, E-Government

Open Government Partnership