Open data catalogue (CZ0014)
“The catalogue of open data should not constitute a central data repository, but only a guidepost providing seeking services. The data will be placed on the servers of data administrators, who will be able to place links into the catalogue and will be responsible for correctness of the catalogue data. Public administration bodies will thus gain a possibility to create in the catalogue records on their data describing the data and indicating their availability for downloading. The public will gain a possibility to seek in the catalogized records in a unified manner with the help of various criteria in friendly user interface. The public (but even the public administration itself) will gain a survey of open data published by the public administration of the Czech Republic in one place.”
IRM End of Term Status Summary
Commitment 8. Open data catalogue
Putting into operation the catalogue of the public administration open data
The catalogue of open data should not constitute a central data repository, but only a guidepost providing seeking services. The data will be placed on the servers of data administrators, who will be able to place links into the catalogue and will be responsible for correctness of the catalogue data. Public administration bodies will thus gain a possibility to create in the catalogue records on their data describing the data and indicating their availability for downloading. The public will gain a possibility to seek in the catalogized records in a unified manner with the help of various criteria in friendly user interface. The public (but even the public administration itself) will gain a survey of open data published by the public administration of the Czech Republic in one place.
Responsible Institution: The Ministry of Interior
Supporting Institution(s): None
Start Date: Not Specified End Date: 30 June 2015
The commitment aims to improve access to data and information by creating an open data catalogue of government-held information at the national, regional, and local levels. The national catalogue will provide a platform for proactively publishing data produced by the public administration. The intention is to enable the public to easily access open data. It is also the first step for facilitating both commercial and non-commercial use of government-held data.
Status: Complete at midterm
The Ministry of Interior created the catalogue on time as was stipulated in the action plan.[Note 34: Portal of Public Administration, National Catalogue of Open Data, [Czech] http://portal.gov.cz/portal/obcan/rejstriky/data/97898/2015-04.html.] The government launched a pilot version of the national catalogue of public administration open data in April 2015 (with additional adjustments submitted by June 2015).[Note 35: Tomáš Kroupa, Martin Tajtl and David Hemala (project team of the Ministry of Interior), interview by IRM researchers, August 2015.] However, only eight institutions have opted to publish their data sets in the catalogue thus far.[Note 36: Government of the Czech Republic, Mid-term Self-Assessment OGP Action Plan Report of the Czech Republic 2014-2016 [English], https://www.korupce.cz/assets/partnerstvi-pro-otevrene-vladnuti/Mid-Term-Self-Assessment-OGP-Report-2014-2016.pdf, 16.] Once data sets are published, the Ministry does not guarantee their authenticity nor whether the information is correct and complete.[Note 37: For details, see the National Catalogue website: Portal of Public Administration, Open Data, [Czech] http://portal.gov.cz/portal/obcan/rejstriky/data/.] The publishing institution itself takes responsibility for the information. [Note 38: Kroupa, Tajtl and Hemala, interview, August 2015.] For more information, please see the 2014-2016 Midterm IRM report.
Although this commitment was complete at midterm, there has been additional progress as the amount of data sets published in the catalogue has expanded. There are six new institutions publishing their data sets in the catalogue.[Note 39: Office of the Government of the Czech Republic: Action Plan of the Czech Republic Open Government Partnership for 2016 to 2018 [English], https://www.korupce.cz/assets/partnerstvi-pro-otevrene-vladnuti/Action-Plan-of-the-Czech-Republic-Open-Governemt-Partnership-for-2016-to-2018.pdf, 15.] According to the decree, less than 1% of public institutions are obliged to publish data in the open data catalogue (central governmental institutions as Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Finance, among others). The catalogue covers only data registers listed in the decree. For this reason, the majority of public institutions and local authorities do not publish their data sets in the catalogue because they are not legally obligated to do so.
The situation shall be changed by an amendment of Act no. 106/1999 Coll. on Free Access to Information, providing a legislative obligation for selected public institutions to publish the data in the catalogue of public administration. According to the amendment, central governmental institutions like the Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Finance etc. will be required to publish their data in the catalogue. Data sets that shall be included in the open data catalogue are specified in an accompaning implementation decree.[Note 40: Government of The Czech Republic: Parliamentary Print 764/0, part no. 1/6 [Czech], http://www.psp.cz/sqw/text/tiskt.sqw?O=7&CT=764&CT1=0.] The amendment was published in the Collection of Laws on 19 September 2016 and will come into effect on 1 January 2017.[Note 41: Government of the Czech Republic: Act no. 298/2016 Coll. [Czech]: https://www.psp.cz/sqw/sbirka.sqw?cz=298&r=2016. ]
As for the decree, it has only progressed through internal comment procedures in the government and therefore has yet to be adopted.[Note 42: Government of the Czech Republic: Governmental Proposal of Decree Establishing a List of Obligatorily Published Information as Open Data [Czech]: https://apps.odok.cz/veklep-detail?p_p_id=material_WAR_odokkpl&p_p_lifecycle=0&p_p_state=normal&p_p_mode=view&p_p_col_id=column-1&p_p_col_count=3&_material_WAR_odokkpl_pid=KORNAD3DQ8HI&tab=detail.]
Did it open government?
Access to information: Marginal
At the time the government adopted the commitment, data published by the public administration did not often fulfil essential open data requirements, such as machine readability. The commitment aims to change the way authorities publish government-held information in order to enable easy public access to the open data catalogue. The open data catalogue was intended to benefit both CSOs and the general public by providing access to information necessary for monitoring government activities, and developing new data applications for better public service delivery.
However, as implemented, a significant number of authorities still have yet to begin publishing information in the catalogue. This could be attributed to several factors. The public administration used an existing government web portal as the platform for the catalogue, and has not sufficiently communicated the benefits of the catalogue to potential publishers of open data sets. The commitment itself also did not provide an explicit list of data that should be made public.
As a representative from Otakar Motejl Fund explains, the decree will apply only to data collected by central authorities and does not require local authorities to publish their data sets.[Note 43: Ibid.] Additionally, the representative states that the commitment is lacking criteria for ensuring that useful, usable information for civil society and the commercial sector is published in the catalogue.
To address the need for legislation defining what data should be made public, the Czech government passed an amendment of Act no. 106/1999 Coll. on Free Access to Information, providing a legislative obligation for selected public institutions to publish data in the catallogue of public administration. This amendment will take effect in January 2017, and the IRM researchers consider the following publication requirements from the draft decree as most important:
- publishing data about economic entities (containing data from the commercial, insolvency and trade register);
- publishing data contained in the information system on public procurement and subsidies; and
- Including data published in the public register of contracts.
IRM researchers consider this decree requiring the publishing of specific data sets to be a positive step toward ensuring open data. Some of the data sets included in the decree are highly valuable and useful for the public, and this will encourage releasing additional data in the future. However, IRM researchers feel that the current draft decree could have required even more data be released, such as environmental data or records on government spending. Researchers view this as a missed opportunity to apply statutory authorization to mandate broader data publishing requirements. In addition, the lists of data sets in the draft decree do not fully correspond to those set out in the action plan’s Appendix to Commitment 4.2.1.
As a result of this commitment’s implementation, publishing data sets in the national catalogue has been voluntary as there is still no legislative obligation to do so in force. Taking into account the fact that only a fraction of public institutions and local authorities have published their data in the catalogue, IRM researchers consider the impact on opening government as marginal.
Instituting the catalogue of the public administration open data, which is the aim of this commitment, remains to be a significant theme of the next action plan. The action plan for 2016 – 2018 deals with the problem in its second theme, specifically in its first and second commitment. These commitments include the following milestones:
- Publish priority data sets in an open form and update them regularly to ensure that they are as current as possible;
- Catalogue the priority data sets in the National Open Data Catalogue;
- Develop open and interconnected data standards; and
- Develop the National Open Data Catalogue (NODC).
The list of priority data sets given in the action plan’s Appendix includes several data sets that are expected to be mandatory for publication according to the governmental draft decree (related to the new amendment of Act no. 106/1999 Coll. on Free Access to Information).
IRM researchers consider that consultation with CSOs might be useful to maximize the usefulness and applicability of the open data. Additionally, data catalogues could be more coherent in order to direct the use of such data.
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