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Germany

Strengthen and Socialize Open Data Policy (DE0021)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Germany Action Plan 2019-2021

Action Plan Cycle: 2019

Status:

Institutions

Lead Institution: Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community (BMI)

Support Institution(s): Federal ministries; Competence Centre Open Data (CCOD, Federal Office of Administration) Division VM II 8, opendata@bva.bund.de

Policy Areas

Access to Information, Open Data, Public Participation

IRM Review

IRM Report: Germany Design Report 2019-2021

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: No IRM Data

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

What is the public problem that the commitment will address?
The Open Data Law (Section 12a E-Government Act (EGovG)) established a foundation for
the active provision of open data by the agencies of the direct federal administration. The
success of this law hinges largely on its effective and comprehensive implementation. To
this end, the knowledge of open data in the federal administration is to be deepened, and
accompanying measures to support the application of the law are to be implemented. So
that open data can meet the needs of users, more consideration will be given to users’
concerns. The aim is for publication of data as open data to become a part of everyday
administrative activities. The resulting administrative data ecosystem (of providers and
subsequent users) constitutes a foundation for transparency and innovation, and must
meet the needs of users.

What is the commitment?
Strengthening the shared knowledge base and developing coherent criteria for the
implementation of open data in the federal administration in order to achieve a common
understanding in the implementation of the open data concept and promote cultural
change within the public administration.

How will the commitment contribute to solving the public problem?
For authorities to undergo the needed cultural shift towards a more public orientation in the
way they handle data obtained in the fulfilment of their statutory duties, they need accompanying measures such as expansion of knowledge management and ongoing exchange
both with data users and among different data providers. Networks, guiding principles and
knowledge management should be helpful in this pursuit.

Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values?
The commitment will help to further entrench the concept of open data in the agencies of
the direct federal administration. The provision of open data will create transparency and
offer the opportunity for more participation.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

6. Further development and promotion of the open data environment

Main Objective

“Strengthening the shared knowledge base and developing coherent criteria for the

implementation of open data in the federal administration in order to achieve a common

understanding in the implementation of the open data concept and promote cultural

change within the public administration.”

Milestones

6.1. Open data strategy of the federal administration

6.2. Organizing or participating in a workshop on exchange with stakeholders in the context of creating an open data strategy

6.3. Declaration on the implementation of the International Open Data Charter principles

6.4. Involvement of civil society organizations, journalists, start-ups and scholars in regularly occurring federal administration events on the topic of open data

6.5. Holding or participating in international events, including in the framework of the 2020–2021 European Council Presidency year

6.6. Holding an open data conference with federal and Land participation to bolster the coordinated and standardized provision of open data at the federal, Land and local levels

6.7. Expanding knowledge management through the creation of a central open data information website

6.8. Creating a central directory for open data applications

Editorial Note: For the complete text of this commitment, please see Germany’s action plan at: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Germany_Action-Plan_2019-2021_EN.pdf.

Commitment Analysis [41]
This commitment has a number of measures to support a more public-focused orientation in how authorities handle data obtained through their duties. It builds upon commitments 2 and 3 from Germany’s first action plan, during which the Federal Ministry of the Interior conducted events to promote the use of open data. [42] By expanding and deepening the provision of open data across the federal government, the commitment is relevant to the OGP value of access to information. It is also relevant to civic participation by emphasizing the enhancement of data use, user needs, and engagement with civil society.  

The recognition in this commitment of the need for a cultural change echoes the conclusions of the government’s open data progress report published in October 2019, which also points to challenges of awareness, capacity, and support resources. [43] As described above in Section II, Germany has average scores in comparative open data assessments, with shortcomings in the areas of impact, usage, and usability. Two expert commissions on digital governance noted the need to develop clear, legally enforceable rights to open data. [44] Other observers have identified a fragmentation in legal rules and organizational responsibilities as a structural obstacle for maximizing the potential of open data. [45]

The design of an open data strategy for the federal administration (Milestone 6.1) underpinned by consultations with civil society (Milestone 6.2) could provide an opportunity to invest political capital and generate momentum for improvements in open data culture, context, and content.

Also, the implementation of the Open Data Charter principles (Milestone 6.3) could give these principles more visibility both inside and outside the administration. The conference for stakeholders from federal, state, and local levels could provide a useful exchange across levels of governments that are actively involved, yet not always fully interlinked, in open data work (Milestone 6.6). Milestones 6.4 and 6.5 include outreach and international engagement that are similar to activities from the first action plan. The remaining milestones (6.7 and 6.8) consolidate the underlying knowledge management and access-to-open-data applications and will likely yield incremental improvements.

The potential improvements to the open-data environment in Germany through these activities will mostly depend on the content and implementation of the broader overall data strategy of the federal government that was also still under development at the writing of this report. The guiding principles for that broader strategy do not provide any indications for a substantive increase in ambition. [46] However, taken together, this commitment could build upon the achievements in open data carried out under the previous action plan and provide the federal government with its first all-encompassing open data strategy, eventually imbedded in a broader strategic data framework.

[41] This analysis was conducted prior to the conclusion of the open data strategy process.
[42] See Dieter Zinnbauer, Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM): Germany Implementation Report 2017–2019 (OGP, 27 Jul. 2020), 13−14, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/germany-implementation-report-2017-2019/.
[43] Bericht der Bundesregierung über die Fortschritte bei der Bereitstellung von Daten [Federal government report on progress in data provision] 19/14140 (10 Oct. 2019).
[44] See Section II.
[45] Andreas Wiebe, “Open Data in Deutschland und Europa” (Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung, 2020), https://www.kas.de/de/einzeltitel/-/content/open-data-in-deutschland-und-europa-1; with regard to organisational fragmentation, see also the ongoing discussion about establishing an open data institute for Germany (Antonia Schmidt, Dr. Frank Termer, Rebekka Weiß, 10-Punkte für Open Government Data [10 points for Open Government Data] (bitkom, Mar. 2020), https://www.bitkom.org/sites/default/files/2020-03/20200331_10_punkte_fur_open_government_data_final.pdf) or Tagesspiegel Background Digitalisierung & KI [Tagesspiegel Background Digitization & AI] (2 Feb. 2020).
[46] Published in November 2019, these so-called cornerstones include an ambition to establish the government as a lead example on data practices and include a short reference to open data but no further specifics. See Eckpunkte einer Datenstrategie der Bundesregierung [Key points of a data strategy of the federal government] (18 Nov. 2019), https://www.bundesregierung.de/resource/blob/997532/1693626/e617eb58f3464ed13b8ded65c7d3d5a1/2019-11-18-pdf-datenstrategie-data.pdf.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

Commitment 6. Further development and promotion of the open data environment

Substantial:

The commitment aimed to support a more public-focused orientation in how authorities handle data obtained through their duties. BMI released a Federal Open Data Strategy in September 2021. [59] The strategy addresses several key areas in need of open data in Germany. [60] Prior to its release, the public could provide input. BMI organized a public consultation from 28 February to 3 April 2020 on where Germany needed to improve its open data practices. [61] The Open Data Competence Centre (CCOD) organized a BarCamp session in November 2019 to solicit feedback from civil society on developing data standards, supporting municipalities, and creating a data catalog. [62]

According to the Federal Chancellery’s mid-term self-assessment report, Open Knowledge Foundation Germany assessed the public consultation on the Federal Open Data Strategy as a positive development. [63] However, no draft of the strategy was available during the consultation. The subsequently finalized strategy laid out the publication of key data (e.g., on procurement and its associated statistics), organizational changes like creating open data coordinators within ministries, and investment in training. Several points were integrated in Germany’s next action plan (2021-2023), including publishing procurement data and creating a register for public sector information publishable as open data. [64] Germany also joined the International Open Data Charter in September 2021 to increase external visibility for data legislation. [65] For example, an announcement blogpost argues that the addition of paragraph 12a to Germany’s E-Government Act in 2021 had established the “open by default” principle by broadening requirements for open data publication to nearly all German Federal ministries. Yet, critics have pointed out that there are no legal claims to opening up data. [66] 

As part of this commitment, the CCOD facilitated exchanges among open data stakeholders. The CCOD organized the first open data conference in October 2020 to identify topics for additional fora in 2021. [67] Three fora were held in 2021 around standardization, data catalogs, and training, one of which was held within the implementation period (10 May 2021). [68] Aside from the fora, the CCOD has a mandate to facilitate interactions between data users and publishers and to inform administrations about open data publication. How this will improve data publication is at the discretion of the respective ministries. The CCOD also supports knowledge sharing through a website which lists possible data-use cases. [69]

[59] Federal Ministry of Interior and Home Affairs, Cabinet adopts Federal Government’s Open Data Strategy, 7 July 2021, https://www.bmi.bund.de/SharedDocs/pressemitteilungen/DE/2021/07/open-data-strategie-der-bundesregierung.html
[60] See: Erster Bericht der Bundesregierung über die Fortschritte bei der Bereitstellung von Daten, 30 December 2020, https://www.bmi.bund.de/SharedDocs/downloads/DE/veroeffentlichungen/themen/moderne-verwaltung/erster-fortschrittsbericht-open-data.html
[65] Open Data Charter, From strategy to principles: Germany’s Federal Government adopts the international open data charter, 16 September 2021, https://medium.com/opendatacharter/from-strategy-to-principles-germanys-federal-government-adopts-the-international-open-data-370cd38a3fc0
[66] The coalition agreement of the new German government also seeks to establish such legal claims. See, https://blog.wikimedia.de/2022/03/17/rechtsanspruch-auf-open-data-jetzt-muss-es-endlich-losgehen/

Commitments

Open Government Partnership