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Open Government in North Rhine-Westphalia (DE0025)



Action Plan: Germany Action Plan 2019-2021

Action Plan Cycle: 2019

Status: Active


Lead Institution: North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitization and Energy and Open Government Working Group

Support Institution(s): OParl, OffenerHaushalt: kdvz Rhein-Erft-Rur (municipal data-processing centre), City of Bonn; XErleben: County of Warendorf, City of Duisburg, City of Solingen, City of Dortmund, Cologne Regional Commission, OParl: Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland e.V. (OKF), Düsseldorf University, producers of information systems for municipal administrations; OffenerHaushalt: Fraunhofer Fokus; XErleben: EFTAS Fernerkundung Technologietransfer GmbH, con terra GmbH; Model data catalogue: Rhineland Open Data Region, GovData, Bertelsmann Stiftung

Policy Areas

Access to Information, E-Government, Local Commitments, Open Data

IRM Review

IRM Report: Germany Design Report 2019-2021

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


What is the public problem that the commitment will address?
Numerous good initiatives and open
government projects have already arisen
in North Rhine-Westphalia in recent
years. The Land and municipal authorities
have been working in partnership with
civil society, within the Open Government
Working Group, to implement the Open
Government Pact in the shared hope of
establishing open administration as
common practice in North RhineWestphalia by 2020. The pilot project
Kommunales Open Government in NRW ran
ten municipal projects, which flagged up
examples of greater transparency, public
involvement and collaboration that could
be applied in other municipalities as well.
More than 3800 data sets are available
on the metadata portal Open.NRW. Over
40 local authorities already publish data,
and new portals providing further data
are appearing all the time.
North Rhine-Westphalia has seen the
creation not only of many good projects
but also of a very extensive open government landscape whose full potential is not
yet realised. A lack of financial resources
and staff poses an additional obstacle
to implementation. Efforts to get more
municipalities on board for open government activities are ongoing.

What is the commitment?
The goal is to create the conditions
required for open government in North
Rhine-Westphalia to become firmly
anchored in all areas and for the long
term. Priorities here include avoiding
redundant effort, boosting synergies and
signposting the onward evolution of open
The primary aim of this commitment
is to provide access to technological
means of simplifying open government.
This includes creating open standards
for APIs and making open data easier to
provide and to find. In addition, the introduction of an open government label is
intended to create an incentive for more
administrations to join open government

How will the commitment contribute
to solving the public problem?
The use of the open standards OParl,
Open311, XErleben and OffenerHaushalt
is to be recommended throughout North
Rhine-Westphalia. This is very important
for standardising both the accessibility of
open data and improvements in how they
can be used.
OParl is an initiative to standardise open
access to parliamentary information
systems in Germany.
Open311 is to be used to establish a
standard API for online civic-issue
trackers which will make contributions
not only re-usable as open data but also
compatible with internal use by control
XErleben is to serve across North RhineWestphalia as an exchange standard for
open data on places of interest in the
fields of education, public bodies, healthcare and social affairs, transport, tourism,
buildings and culture, leisure and trails,
events, business and enterprise, etc.
OffenerHaushalt is to be made available as
a standard for open budget data, making
budgets, for example, easier to use and
release as open data.
The Open.NRW portal will give Land and
municipal administrations easier ways of
making data publicly available. The bodies
releasing data will have their own pages
on which they can directly publish and
manage them.
Open data that have been made available
are to be directly accessible via search
engines. This will increase their reach and
thus their pool of potential users.
The model data catalogue for open data
gives an overview of what municipalities
have already made available. Expanding
this catalogue to cover all local communities and associations that have published
data on Open.NRW will make it easier for
municipalities in North Rhine-Westphalia
to start out in the area of open data, while
municipalities already active in the field
will discover additional possibilities.
Developing and road-testing a prototype
open government label can motivate administrations to put greater effort into
implementing open government measures
and thereby receive recognition in the
form of the label. This has the potential to
enhance the visibility of open government

Why is this commitment relevant to
OGP values?
This commitment creates the conditions
that will enable more open government
in North Rhine-Westphalia, through
the greater transparency generated by
increased and improved availability of
open data in combination with better
usability by individuals and businesses.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

10. Developing infrastructure and framework conditions for open government in North Rhine-Westphalia

Main Objective

“The goal is to create the conditions required for open government in North Rhine-Westphalia to become firmly anchored in all areas and for the long term. Priorities here include avoiding redundant effort, boosting synergies and signposting the onward evolution of open government.

The primary aim of this commitment is to provide access to technological means of simplifying open government. This includes creating open standards for APIs and making open data easier to provide and to find. In addition, the introduction of an open government label is intended to create an incentive for more administrations to join open government initiatives.”


10.1. Recommending OParl standard for use across North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW)

  • Concept development
  • Implementation

10.2. Recommending OffenerHaushalt standard for use across NRW

  • Concept development
  • Testing and release of the platform
  • Implementation

10.3. Recommending Open311 standard for use across NRW

10.4. Recommending XErleben standard

10.5. Creating easier options for municipal authorities to make data available via central Land metadata portal Open.NRW

10.6. Enhancing accessibility of data via search engine

10.7. Expanding model data catalogue for North Rhine-Westphalia

10.8. Developing and testing prototype open government label

Editorial Note: For the complete text of this commitment, please see Germany’s action plan at:

Commitment Analysis

This commitment will standardize major transparency and open data practices in North Rhine-Westphalia. It will expand the use of the OParl, Open311, XErleben, and OffenerHaushalt standards among land and municipal authorities throughout North Rhine-Westphalia. It calls for facilitating data publishing by land and municipal authorities on the Open.NRW portal. Finally, it will test an open government seal to incentivize local data publishing. The commitment is relevant to the OGP value of access to information because it seeks to enhance the availability, accessibility, interoperability, and reuse of open data in public policy.

North Rhine-Westphalia is Germany’s most populous state with 17.9 million inhabitants [81] and has long been a driving force for open government in the country. It was the first state to explicitly embrace open government as a guiding principle in policymaking [82] and serves as the staging ground for a considerable number of open government experiments. [83] In 2015, it submitted a legislative motion for Germany to join OGP. In 2017, it launched a multistakeholder working group on open government (Arbeitskreis Open Government NRW) that includes state and local government representatives as well as civil society and businesses. [84] In addition, North Rhine-Westphalia amended its e-government law in July 2020 to make an “open data by default” principle mandatory. [85]

OParl, the standard for parliamentary information systems, was first published in 2016 and as of late 2019, the aggregator site [86] provides updates from more than 50 German cities. [87] A total of 27 local districts in North Rhine-Westphalia participated in the OParl pilot project. [88] As of October 2019, the federal government, ten states, and 39 districts have open budget initiatives that provide granular budget information online in easily understandable format. [89] However, some of these initiatives are not based on standardized open data formats. As of 2017 forty-three use the OParl standard and are accessible through the portal, including the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia and 14 local districts. [90]

The incident-reporting standard, Open311, is used by seven cities in Germany, including four in North Rhine-Westphalia, and by a total of 23 cities worldwide as of late 2019. [91] The Open.NRW portal has over­ ­3,900 data­sets from over 45 local authorities­, as of July 2020. [92] Creating an open government seal to incentivize, promote, and safeguard the quality of open government policies has been discussed since the inception of open government, [93] yet few seals have found traction in other countries. [94] There are currently no comparable initiatives in place in Germany. [95]

The activities regarding search-engine accessibility, model catalogue expansion, and easier publishing of open data are important, albeit incremental, improvements. If widely adopted, the promoted standards could enhance the transparency and comparative research value of core government functions in budgeting and local decision-making in North Rhine-Westphalia. The increased use of open standards in North Rhine-Westphalia could also serve as an example for other federal states and bring about improvements there.

Efforts to adopt open standard applications across the state could also be enhanced and serve as examples for other states. However, this commitment does not include activities to ensure widespread adoption of these standards, and therefore will not change the status quo significantly. Also, it should be noted that previous initiatives to promote widespread adoption of these standards yielded mixed results. For example, the platform for consolidated access to OffenerHaushalt data was relaunched in 2017 but has only modest growth in reporting entities. [96] This suggests that extra effort is required for widespread adoption. Similarly, a successful seal for local administrations requires substantive investments into a credible methodology and certification process; even then, improving local government behavior with a seal remains untested. [97] As the commitment lacks any concrete activities on how these challenges will be addressed, the potential changes to open data and transparency in North Rhine-Westphalia are minor.

[81] Ministerium für Heimat, Kommunales, Bau und Gleichstellung des Landes NRW, "Land und Stadt gestalten" [Design the country and city] (2020),; Wikipedia, "List of municipalities in North Rhine-Westphalia" (accessed Aug. 2020),
[82] Göttrik Wewer and Till Wewer, Open Government: Stärkung oder Schwächung der Demokratie? [Strengthening or weakening democracy?] (Springer VS, 2019); see OpenNRW, "Open Government Pakt" [Open government pact] (2020),
[83] OpenNRW, "Open Government Pakt."
[84] Id.
[85] See OpenNRW, “Eine Open Data-Regelung für NRW”, (14 July 2020),
[86] Politik bei uns, “Was macht Ihre Politik vor Ort?” [What is your local policy doing?] (accessed Aug. 2020),
[87] See the implementation of OParl at city level (Munich Transparent, "So Funktioniert Stadtpolitik" [This is how city politics works] (accessed Aug. 2020), ).
[88] Ministerium für Wirtschaft, Innovation, Digitalisierung und Energie NRW, Kommunales Open Government in NRW [municipal open government in NRW] (2018),
[89] HaushaltsSteuerung, "Offene Haushalte" [Open households] (accessed Aug. 2020),
[90] Search by state on Offener Hauhalt, "Haushaltsdaten einfach verständlich präsentieren" [Present household data in an easily understandable way] (accessed Aug. 2020),
[91] Open311, "GeoReport v2 Servers" (accessed Aug. 2020),
[92] German Federal Chancellery, Second National Action Plan 2019–2021 (OGP, Sept. 2019), 54,
[93] Beth Noveck and Michael Baldwin, “Wrap-Up of the Open Government Brainstorming: Collaboration” (The White House, 16, Jun. 2009),; AmericaSpeaks et al., "Working Together to Strengthen our Nation's Democracy: Ten Recommendations" from the second conference on “Strengthening Our Nation’s Democracy” (Washington, DC: 2--4, 2009)
[94] Austria uses a label for Good Governance and Innovation in local government (KDZ, “Label für Good Governance (LfGGI)” [Good Governance Label (LfGGI)] (accessed Aug. 2020), The Philippines have a “Seal of Good Housekeeping,” a Seal of “Excellence on Citizen’s Satisfaction,” and a “Seal of Good Local Governance,” and have related commitments in their OGP action plans (NAP2 (Commitment 1), NAP 3 (Commitments 8 and 9). ISO 9001 certifications on quality management are also available for local communities but are only tangentially related to open government values See ISO, “ISO 18091:2019(en) Quality management systems — Guidelines for the application of ISO 9001 in local government” .
[95] German local communities use a number of labels and seals that attest to certain features or qualities of the administration. These are often initiated at the local level. See Wirtschaftsforderung Zukunftsregion Nordschwarzwald, Kommunale Kompetenz - ein Qualitatssiegel fur die Verwaltung [Municipal competence - a seal of quality for the administration] (accessed Aug. 2020),; see also Quality Label “Unternehmerfreundliche Verwaltung” [Entrepreneur-friendly administration] (
[96] Heinrich Böll Stiftung Kommunalwiki, "Offener Haushalt" [Open Household" (Jan. 2020),
[97] See the implementation and credibility problems that plague even well-established certification systems such as ISO 9001 when used on local government units (Neven Klepo, Statebuilding Von Unten [Statebuilding From Below] (Springer VS, 2019).


  1. Participatory Development of Research and Innovation Policy

    DE0022, 2019, Local Commitments

  2. Participatory Creation of Regulatory Policy

    DE0023, 2019, Public Participation

  3. Digital Strategy Pilot for Rural Regions

    DE0024, 2019, Local Commitments

  4. Open Government in North Rhine-Westphalia

    DE0025, 2019, Access to Information

  5. Policy Co-Creation in North Rhine-Westphalia

    DE0026, 2019, Land Rights & 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, Local Commitments

  9. Regional Open Government Labs

    DE0016, 2019, Local Commitments

  10. Civil Society Consulation on Foreign Policy

    DE0017, 2019, Public Participation

  11. Create Youth Strategy

    DE0018, 2019, Marginalized Communities

  12. Create Federal Agency for Digital Innovation

    DE0019, 2019, Public Participation

  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, Public Participation

  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. Starred commitment 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

Open Government Partnership