Open Data in Administrative Practice (DE0002)
Description: With its open data legislation, the Federal Government has implemented a key element of the G8 action plan. The E-Government Act creates the basis for actively providing open data of federal authorities. However, the act’s success will strongly depend on effective implementation. To this end, knowledge about open data in the federal administration will be enhanced to ensure that data are provided in a consistent manner. Provision of open data will be tailored to the users’ needs. Aim: Strengthening the shared basis of knowledge and identifying consistent criteria for implementing open data in the federal administration to arrive at a common understanding for putting the idea of open data into practice. Status quo: By signing the G8 Open Data Charter and adopting a National Action Plan, Germany prepared the ground for open data in the federal administration. Participation in OGP underlines the Federal Government’s resolve to continue on its way towards more transparency, openness and participation also in the future. The open data legislation has created a uniform basis for providing open data of the federal administration. Ambition: The Federal Government wants to become a pioneer in the field of open data. Publishing data as open data will become common administrative practice. This will generate an ecosystem of public administration data which will serve as a basis for transparency and innovation and satisfy the users’ needs. New or ongoing: new Implemented by: Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) Organizations involved in implementation: Federal ministries Organizational unit and contact: Division O1, O1@bmi.bund.de Open government values addressed: Transparency, innovation Relevance: Open data creates transparency and therefore is a basis for open government.
IRM Midterm Status Summary
2. Implementing Open Data in Administrative Practice
Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:
“With its open data legislation, the Federal Government has implemented a key element of the G8 action plan. The E-Government Act creates the basis for actively providing open data of federal authorities. However, the act’s success will strongly depend on effective implementation. To this end, knowledge about open data in the federal administration will be enhanced to ensure that data are provided in a consistent manner. Provision of open data will be tailored to the users’ needs.”
- Evaluation and implementation plan of pending commitments of the G8 Open Data Action Plan
- Strategy for consistent data provision for the federal administration
- Creating an advisory service for the federal administration
- Developing tools to assist federal authorities in identifying and publishing suitable data
- Developing open data guidelines (e.g. on data protection, publication process)
Start Date: June 2017
End Date: June 2019
Context and Objectives
According to the action plan, “[t]he Federal Government wants to become a pioneer in the field of open data.” The government’s vision states that “[p]ublishing data as open data will become common administrative practice. This will generate an ecosystem of public administration data which will serve as a basis for transparency and innovation and satisfy the users’ needs.” This ambition predates Germany’s involvement in OGP. The country’s binding commitments and related activities reflect this ambition. These activities include the adoption of the G8 Open Data Charter in 2013  and the subsequent development of a national action plan to implement the charter in 2014.  They also include the federal Open Data Act (formerly the first amendment of the E-Government Act), adopted in May 2017. 
Germany’s OGP participation is thus contextualized as a complementary opportunity to reaffirm and further expand ambitions related to open data. Related commitments in OGP action plans could create momentum. Germany’s comparative performance in this area leaves room for improvement. 
This commitment focuses on “strengthening the shared basis of knowledge and identifying consistent criteria for implementing open data in the federal administration to arrive at a common understanding for putting the idea of open data into practice.” Consequently, the ambition of the commitment is directly relevant to the OGP value of access to information.
The proposed activities focus primarily on the development of guidelines, capacities, and support functions to aid the implementation of open data across the federal administration. Based on the G8 Open Data Action Plan commitments and activities,  this commitment comprises the creation of tools, guidelines, an advisory service, and a strategy in support of open data practices in the federal administration.
Milestones 2.1–2.4 are verifiable. Milestone 2.5 lacks a specific timeline, but one can confirm the production of the actions. All activities lack specific parameters. Thus, verifiability pertains only to the production of an “implementation plan” (2.1), “strategy” (2.2), and “tools” (2.4). The commitment text provides no further specifications of quality parameters for the production process, the deliverables, and/or their reception and use in the stakeholder community.
The commitment and its activities aim to establish prerequisites for a consistent, sustainable open data environment at the federal level. They are thus necessary components for a successful open data ecosystem and target observed shortcomings in the current open data landscape.  However, they are not sufficient to create a direct impact on expanding access to information. They also do not address what many civil society observers have identified as central roadblocks to substantive improvements in open data. Such improvements include a stronger right to information law and default cost-free, machine-readable availability of a core set of high-value datasets.  In the absence of these improvements, this commitment is coded as having a minor potential impact. This assessment also results from a lack of specificity for the envisaged milestones.
The IRM researcher recommends that the government augment the implementation process with a set of clear, demonstrable quality criteria in relation to
- the production processes of some of the envisaged deliverables (e.g. by basing it on close consultation with stakeholders);
- the outputs, e.g by working towards an advisory service that guarantees a certain service scope and level; and
- the expected performance and outcomes, e.g., including a strategy that has been endorsed by a certain number of major civil society stakeholders, tools that meet certain download and adoption targets, etc.
For the next action plan, the IRM researcher recommends including commitments that build on the work of this action plan, as these actions represent key first steps in this policy area.
 “2013 Lough Erne G8 Leaders’ Communique,” Publications, Gov.UK, 18 June 2013, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/2013-lough-erne-g8-leaders-communique.
 “The Federal Government’s National Action Plan to Implement the G8 Open Data Charter,” Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community, 3 December 2014, https://www.bmi.bund.de/SharedDocs/downloads/EN/publikationen/2014/national-action-plan-open-data.pdf.
 “Law for the Promotion of Electronic Administration (E-Government Law—EGovG) § 12a Open Data of the Authorities of the Direct Federal Administration,” Bundesministerium der Justiz and für Verbraucherschutz and Bundesamt für Justiz, http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/egovg/__12a.html.
 See discussion supra Section II.
 Federal Ministry of the Interior, The Federal Government’s National Action Plan to Implement the G8 Open Data Charter, September 2014, https://www.cio.bund.de/SharedDocs/Publikationen/DE/Aktuelles/20140918_nationeler_aktionsplan_open_data_englisch.pdf?__blob=publicationFile.
 See Section II of this report.
 Deutscher Bundestag, Open Data Bus und Bahn—Bedeutung der Richtlinie über die Weiterverwendung von Informationen des öffentlichen Sektors (PSI-Richtlinie) für den Öffentlichen Personennahverkehr, Antwort der Bundesregierung auf die kleine Anfrage 19/6966, Drucksache 19/7498 (2019); and Stefan Krempl, “Bundesregierung Kommt bei Open Data und Open Source Nicht Voran,” Heise Online, 25 August 2018, https://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/Bundesregierung-kommt-bei-Open-Data-und-Open-Source-nicht-voran-4145803.html.
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