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Israel

Data.Gov (IL0018)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Not Attached

Action Plan Cycle: 2015

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: E-Government unit, Government ICT Authority, Prime Minister's Office

Support Institution(s): Government offices and auxiliary units. Developers, citizens interested in making use of information for personal reasons or to develop applications for the public's benefit

Policy Areas

Open Data

IRM Review

IRM Report: Israel End-of-Term Report 2015-2017, Israel Mid-Term Progress Report 2015-2017

Starred: No

Early Results: Major Major

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

The goal of the project is to improve public service and encourage the creative use by the public, academia and the Government of government databases. To date, more than 240 databases have been published as a result of the joint activity of more than 30 government offices. Based on these databases, dozens of applications for the public's benefit have been developed.Main objective - To increase exposure of government databases for public use. Challenge - To increase the measure of transparency and public participation by advancing the exposure of the databases through technological tools that allow public services to be developed based on government databases.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

Commitment 5. Data.gov

Commitment TextTo map existing databases, improve the technological platform to make them more accessible and encourage the public to use the databases.

Status quo or problem/issue to be addressed: The goal of the project is to improve public service and encourage the creative use by the public, academia and the Government of government databases. To date, more than 240 databases have been published as a result of the joint activity of more than 30 government offices. Based on these databases, dozens of applications for the public's benefit have been developed.

Main Objective: To increase exposure of government databases for public use.

Milestones:

5.1 To encourage offices to publish new government databases

5.2 To improve the quality of published databases

5.3 To conduct a dialogue with the public of developers and set requirements for the databases

5.4 To map main databases in government offices

Responsible institution: E-Government unit, Government ICT Authority, Prime Minister's Office

Supporting institution(s): Government offices and auxiliary units

Start dateJanuary 1, 2011        End dateJune 1, 2015

Context and objectives:

The Israeli government operates a large amount of government databases but these are not easily accessible by the public.  The exact number is unknown, even to the government itself. Resolution 2985 required ministries publish a list of all their databases within 90 days. 'Using government data, reprocessing and development by the public and for the public good.' (32nd Government, 14 Mar. 2011), http://www.pmo.gov.il/Secretary/GovDecisions/2011/Pages/des2985.aspx. However, the government never fully implemented this resolution.  In September 2016, the government again passed a resolution requiring ministries to end mapping their databases by the end of 2017. The government CTO to whom ministries will report these database inventories, stated, “As of now, we don’t even know what databases exist.” Omar Kabir, 'Government databases are transparent to the public by default,' (Kalkalist, 1 Sept. 2016), http://www.calcalist.co.il/internet/articles/0,7340,L-3696908,00.html. While Israel has only published some 300 databases as of late 2016, other countries have published up to hundreds of thousands of databases. “The Financial Value of Data Driven Innovation” (DeLoitte, 2016), 64, https://goo.gl/1JuJUl.  Only a limited number of databases are available for public use by civil society organizations or private entities.

According to government officials and NGO representatives, this commitment had two major goals:

  • Promote the publication of a significant volume of government databases that were previously unavailable; and
  • Publish government databases in an open format that allows non-governmental entities (for-profits and not-for-profits) to reuse this information to offer new services to the public.  Representatives of the Public Knowledge Workshop and the Movement for Freedom of Information, Stakeholders’ Meeting in Tel-Aviv, 28 Aug. 2016 and Shevy Korzen Head of Public Knowledge Workshop phone interview on 11 Feb. 2017.

The milestones in this commitment use vague, unambitious language. Encouraging officers to take actions or merely “conduct dialogue” to promote that action is a casual approach toward publishing governmental databases.

In addition, in comparison to the results addressed by this commitment in 2012, the results from this second action plan indicate a lack of conviction by the government to release databases on a large scale. For the IRM researchers, it would be important to consider more binding measures that require public entities to disclose this information. A major step forward in this direction was made in government resolution 1933 of August 2016, which requires all government ministries to open all their datasets as of 2022. In this regard, the IRM researchers consider that closely monitoring implementation of the resolution is needed, especially for the required preparatory measures. The resolution includes several datasets that are to be opened in 2017. The selection of these datasets, according to the IRM researchers’ findings, includes information already readily available (such as landing and departure times at Israel's main international airport), real-time information on the national railway system and budgets of local authorities. Public Knowledge Workshop, a leading CSO in the field, commented that 'many important dataset identified can be easily opened up easily and there is no need to wait until 2022'.

If implemented completely, this commitment would be a major step forward in increasing access to government databases. It would offer the private sector and NGOs robust tools to promote their commercial or social goals through using publicly available government data. However, as currently worded, the commitment contains activities that are limited in scope.

Completion

The number of datasets uploaded to the site increased by 50%, with approximately 200 datasets available during the first year of implementation.  See data.gov.il.   According to interviews with relevant government officials and CSOs who took part in the process, government officials that engaged in this process worked to convince ministries to open up their databases. Interview with Ilana Pinchu (Member of PMO), 25 Sept. 2016. Tomer Lotan (Head of the Center for Empowerment of Citizens in Israel) phone interview on 14 Nov. 2016.  At the time of this report, the IRM researchers could not find any statement or document that legally enforced ministries to publish government databases. Resolution 1933 enacted measures for enforcement that will be implemented by 2022. CSOs representatives were satisfied with their level of involvement in the initial consultation process of considering which databases to prioritize. As reported at the Stakeholders' Meeting, 28 Aug. 2016.  They were invited to two meetings with a Prime Minister’s Office official to discuss these matters. Members of academia were also present. Yet, after presenting their views, they heard no feedback from the government. One NGO leader mentioned that a few months later he “received a phone call from a senior official in the Prime Minister’s office, informing that tomorrow they will pass a government resolution declaring the opening up of databases. He asked [him] that [the] organizations show support of the government, but this had little to do with the discussions [they] were invited to and [they] were not part of the process afterwards which eventually led to a very different outcome.' Name withheld for anonymity (Head of a prominent CSO) phone interview on Dec. 2016.  

Next Steps

The IRM researchers recommend taking this commitment forward in the next action plan. However, this new commitment would benefit from:

  • More specific goals as to the scope of datasets to be disclosed;
  • A public campaign to inform citizens of the availability and accessibility of the information; and
  • Political support in order to overcome reservations from some government agencies and to give these intentions binding government power through concrete government resolutions.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

5. Data.gov

Commitment Text:

To map existing databases, improve the technological platform to make them more accessible and encourage the public to use the databases.

Status quo or problem/issue to be addressed: The goal of the project is to improve public service and encourage the creative use by the public, academia and the Government of government databases. To date, more than 240 databases have been published as a result of the joint activity of more than 30 government offices. Based on these databases, dozens of applications for the public's benefit have been developed.

Main Objective: To increase exposure of government databases for public use.

Milestones:

5.1. To encourage offices to publish new government databases

5.2. To improve the quality of published databases

5.3. To conduct a dialogue with the public of developers and set requirements for the databases

5.4. To map main databases in government offices

Responsible institutions: E-Government Unit, Government ICT Authority, Prime Minister's Office

Supporting institutions: Government offices and auxiliary units

Start date: 1 January 2011

End date: 1 June 2015

Commitment Aim

While Israel's data.gov website was launched in 2011, it contained only limited amounts of datasets and did not generate much public interest. This commitment, as described in the action plan, aimed to increase the public use of government-held information by expanding the data.gov website to include more databases. More specifically, the expansion of the data.gov website is meant to:

· Promote the publication of a significant volume of government databases that were previously not publicly available;

· Publish government databases in an open format that allows non-governmental entities (for-profits and not-for-profits) to reuse this information to offer new services to the public.

It should be noted, however, that some of the commitment's milestones contain vague language such as 'conducting a dialogue to promote' the uploading of datasets, and 'encouraging' officials to do so.

Status

Midterm: Complete

Despite the vague and unambitious milestones set for this commitment, the IRM researchers reported in the midterm report that the commitment has been completed. However, the end date set by the government was in fact 1 June 2015, putting the commitment outside the timeframe of the action plan. Beyond what was described and expected in the commitment, the midterm report found that during the first year of the action plan, the number of datasets available on the site increased by 50 percent, bringing the total number to more than 200. For more information, see the IRM midterm report. Israel IRM Midterm Report, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/Israel_MidTerm-Progress_2015-2017_ENG.pdf, pg. 37.

There are two main developments that took place during the second year of the action plan cycle. The first was the expansion of the data.gov website and the number of datasets available on it. The website has expanded to contain 510 datasets at the time of this report, more than double the number of datasets at the midterm. Expansion of the data.gov website, https://data.gov.il/. The second is the adoption of government resolution 1933 on 30 August 2016. Adoption of the government resolution 1933, http://www.pmo.gov.il/Secretary/GovDecisions/2016/Pages/dec1933.aspx. This resolution orders the opening of all government websites by the year 2022, the mapping of them by 2017, and a release of 100 datasets during this year, which was achieved (as can be seen from the above information). The government allocated a 15 million NIS budget to promote the mapping of government databases and incentivizing government agencies to make datasets public by supporting required efforts to do so.

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Major

Civic Participation: Marginal

This commitment aimed to make more government-held information available to the public. In the past, government agencies refrained from releasing databases to the public but the data.gov website is changing this approach. Implementation of this commitment went significantly beyond what was envisioned in the action plan, with the opening of more than 400 datasets during the action plan period. More importantly, many of these are datasets of public significance, in contrast to earlier versions of the data.gov website where many datasets with minimal public demand were added. Interviewed NGO officials, who were consulted during the process, expressed satisfaction with the nature of the datasets released, although they pointed out that often the datasets are not regularly updated or maintained, lead to broken links or contain missing information. Interview with Shevy Kerzon, head of Public Knowledge Workshop' and other activists from the organization, 13 September 2017. According to the government, this issue is addressed in the new CIO guidelines as of February 2018.

The government resolution 1933 has the potential to create more transformative change in this field, but civil society activists involved in the field argue that implementation at this stage has been unsatisfactory. The former head of the Center for Citizens' Empowerment says the data.gov website is not well maintained and datasets are not regularly updated. He believes this is a result of a lack of human resources. Interview with Mr. Tomer Lotan, former head of CECI, 17 September 2017. This problem should be solved by the budget allocated to this effort. In this sense, it should be noted that while 15 million NIS were allocated for fiscal year 2017, less than 30 percent of this was used by August 2017. Information provided by government official in confidence. The resolution includes standards on the process and format for disclosure of datasets and most importantly encourages a disclosure 'state of mind' which is the most important condition for achieving actual, long lasting and significant change.

Carried Forward?

The continued expansion of the data.gov.il website has been carried forward to Israel's third action plan.


Commitments

  1. Civic Participation Processes in Government

    IL0023, 2017, Capacity Building

  2. Resolution Implementation Reports

    IL0024, 2017, E-Government

  3. Action Plan Performance Indicators

    IL0025, 2017, E-Government

  4. Government Call Centers

    IL0026, 2017, Marginalized Communities

  5. National Legislation Database

    IL0027, 2017, E-Government

  6. National Plan for the Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    IL0028, 2017, Audits and Controls

  7. Transparency Criteria

    IL0029, 2017, Public Participation

  8. Publication of Information Legislative Amendments

    IL0030, 2017, Legislation & Regulation

  9. Transparency, Participation, Accessibility of Information in Local Authorities and Ministry of the Interior

    IL0031, 2017, E-Government

  10. Publicly Accessible Databases

    IL0032, 2017, E-Government

  11. Remotely Accessing Government Services

    IL0033, 2017, Capacity Building

  12. Paperless Government

    IL0034, 2017, E-Government

  13. Open-Source Code

    IL0035, 2017, E-Government

  14. Evaluation of Open Government Plan

    IL0036, 2017, OGP

  15. Contracting Between the Government and Private Sector

    IL0016, 2015, Open Contracting and Procurement

  16. Unified Website for Government Offices

    IL0017, 2015, Records Management

  17. Data.Gov

    IL0018, 2015, Open Data

  18. Public's Satisfaction with Government Services

    IL0019, 2015, Public Participation

  19. ATI on Legislation

    IL0020, 2015, Records Management

  20. Civic Participation Tools

    IL0021, 2015, E-Government

  21. Civic Participation

    IL0022, 2015, Public Participation

  22. Review of the Governmental Freedom of Information Unit's Authority

    IL0014, 2015, Capacity Building

  23. Web for FOI

    IL0015, 2015, Right to Information

  24. Establishing a Cross-Sector Forum That Promotes Open Government Programs

    IL0001, 2012, Public Participation

  25. State Budget Information Accessibility

    IL0002, 2012, Fiscal Transparency

  26. Publication of Work Plans in Government Offices

    IL0003, 2012, E-Government

  27. Establishing a System of Measurement and Review and Publicizing a Government Service Report to the Public

    IL0004, 2012, Capacity Building

  28. Cooperation Between the Government and the Public in Developing Online Applications

    IL0005, 2012, Private Sector

  29. Public Participation in Policymaking Processes

    IL0006, 2012, Public Participation

  30. Establishing a Freedom of Information Unit in the Ministry of Justice

    IL0007, 2012, Judiciary

  31. Developing Technology Infrastructure for Providing Government Services

    IL0008, 2012, E-Government

  32. Inter-Office Committee for Improving Business Processes

    IL0009, 2012, E-Government

  33. Creating a Government Contact Center (NAMAL - Meeting Point for Citizens)

    IL0010, 2012, E-Government

  34. Online Catalog of Government Services

    IL0011, 2012, E-Government

  35. Establishing a Unit for Government Service to the Public

    IL0012, 2012, Public Service Delivery

  36. Establishing a National Information Technology (IT) Unit Headed by a Government CIO

    IL0013, 2012, E-Government