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Germany

Open Data in Administrative Practice (DE0002)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Germany National Action Plan 2017-2019

Action Plan Cycle: 2017

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI)

Support Institution(s): Federal ministries

Policy Areas

Access to Information, Capacity Building, Open Data

IRM Review

IRM Report: Germany Implementation Report 2017-2019, Germany Design Report 2017-2019

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

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.”

Milestones:

  • 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 [4] and the subsequent development of a national action plan to implement the charter in 2014. [5] They also include the federal Open Data Act (formerly the first amendment of the E-Government Act), adopted in May 2017. [6]

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. [7]

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, [8] 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. [9] 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. [10] 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.

Next steps

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.

[4] “2013 Lough Erne G8 Leaders’ Communique,” Publications, Gov.UK, 18 June 2013, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/2013-lough-erne-g8-leaders-communique.

[5] “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.

[6] “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.

[7] See discussion supra Section II.

[8] 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.

[9] See Section II of this report.

[10] 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.

IRM End of Term 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.”

Milestones:

  • 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

This commitment aimed to enhance the conditions for open data in Germany’s federal administration. This included targeted research, the development of support services, and the provision of guidelines and tools to assist federal authorities in adopting consistent open data practices.

Despite the vagueness of some milestones, the overall completion of the commitment was substantial.

The state of implementation of the G8 Open Data Action Plan and Germany’s performance in some major open data rankings were examined and discussed in an interministerial steering group on open data (milestone 2.1). Making more of the internal analysis, assessments, and strategy design available to public consumption and feedback could further leverage the benefits of these efforts. [15] Several guidelines and handbooks have been produced to aid the identification and publication of open data (milestones 2.2, [16] 2.4, and 2.5). [17]

However, whether an evaluation report with suggestions amounts to the envisaged strategy for consistent data provision is open to interpretation (milestone 2.2). Lastly, an open data support service (milestone 2.3) was established. However, according to the government’s Open Data Progress Report from October 2019 this support function is not yet adequately staffed and less than one in five federal agencies have used its services. [18]

So far, the implementation of this commitment has led to marginal improvements to open data in the federal administration. The recognition of the potential of open data in official statements continues to be strong. [19] However, according to the Open Data Progress Report, whose findings were based on interviews with more than 50 federal agencies, the necessary support infrastructure has either not yet been established or is at an early stage in most federal agencies. [20] Germany continues to rank in the middle and partially in the lower tier of comparable countries on different aspects of open data performance. [21] That said, the activities undertaken for this commitment have laid the groundwork for better open data ecosystems going forward.

[15] Evidence of internal analysis and discussion kindly provided to IRM researcher by related department, but related materials not available publicly online.

[16] Evidence on evaluation kindly provided to IRM researcher by related department; findings included in Deutscher Bundestag (2019). Erster Bericht der Bundesregierung über die Fortschritte bei der Bereitstellung von Daten, Drucksache 19/14140, 10.10.2; evaluation report made available by related department.

[17] https://www.verwaltung-innovativ.de/DE/Verwaltungsdigitalisierung/Open_Data/open_data_node.html;jsessionid=F4A7B1B2046396D8E160D5B049AD8855.1_cid332land https://www.bva.bund.de/DE/Services/Behoerden/Beratung/Beratungszentrum/OpenData/opendata_node.html

[18] Deutscher Bundestag 2019, Erster Bericht der Bundesregierung über die Fortschritte bei der Bereitstellung von Daten, Drucksache 19/14140, 10 October 2019, http://dip21.bundestag.de/dip21/btd/19/141/1914140.pdf.

[19] For some recent examples see the prominent recognition of open data and its importance in statements by the Ethics Commission, the Competition 4.0 Commission, or the government’s framework for its forthcoming data strategy, https://www.bundesregierung.de/resource/blob/975226/1693626/e617eb58f3464ed13b8ded65c7d3d5a1/2019-11-18-pdf-datenstrategie-data.pdf?download=1

[20] Deutscher Bundestag 2019, Erster Bericht der Bundesregierung über die Fortschritte bei der Bereitstellung von Daten, Drucksache 19/14140, 10 October 2019; this view was also confirmed in several interviews with civil society and government representatives by the IRM researcher.

[21] For example, the EU open data maturity index, which classifies Germany as a “follower”, https://www.europeandataportal.eu/sites/default/files/country-factsheet_germany_2019.pdf


Commitments

  1. Participatory Development of Research and Innovation Policy

    DE0022, 2019, Public Participation

  2. Participatory Creation of Regulatory Policy

    DE0023, 2019, Open Regulations

  3. Digital Strategy Pilot for Rural Regions

    DE0024, 2019, Public Service Delivery

  4. Open Government in North Rhine-Westphalia

    DE0025, 2019, Access to Information

  5. Policy Co-Creation in North Rhine-Westphalia

    DE0026, 2019, Land Rights and Spatial Planning

  6. Data Sovereignty in North Rhine-Westphalia

    DE0027, 2019, Access to Information

  7. Open Government Portal in Saxony

    DE0028, 2019, E-Government

  8. Open-Source Software in Public Administrations in Schleswig-Holstein

    DE0029, 2019, Subnational

  9. Regional Open Government Labs

    DE0016, 2019, Public Participation

  10. Civil Society Consulation on Foreign Policy

    DE0017, 2019,

  11. Create Youth Strategy

    DE0018, 2019, Marginalized Communities

  12. Craete Federal Agency for Digital Innovation

    DE0019, 2019,

  13. Transparency and Participation in International Aid

    DE0020, 2019, Access to Information

  14. Strengthen and Socialize Open Data Policy

    DE0021, 2019, Access to Information

  15. Conditions for OGP Participation

    DE0001, 2017,

  16. Open Data in Administrative Practice

    DE0002, 2017, Access to Information

  17. Open Data Environment

    DE0003, 2017, Access to Information

  18. Access to Spatial Data

    DE0004, 2017, Access to Information

  19. Financial Transparency - EITI Standard

    DE0005, 2017, Access to Information

  20. Transparency in Development Policy

    DE0006, 2017, Access to Information

  21. Open Data for Intelligent Mobility

    DE0007, 2017, Access to Information

  22. Citizen Participation in Environmental Policy and Urban Development

    DE0008, 2017, Capacity Building

  23. Electronic Procedures for Family Benefits

    DE0009, 2017, E-Government

  24. Knowledge Network for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex People

    DE0010, 2017, E-Government

  25. Local Alliances for Family Initiative

    DE0011, 2017, Public Participation

  26. Share of Women and Men in Leadership Positions, Private and Private Sectors

    DE0012, 2017, E-Government

  27. Open Access to Academic Literature

    DE0013, 2017, E-Government

  28. Science Year 2018

    DE0014, 2017, Public Participation

  29. Federal Competition “Living Together Hand in Hand”

    DE0015, 2017, Citizenship & Immigration

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