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Israel

Publicly Accessible Databases (IL0032)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Israel Action Plan 2017-2019

Action Plan Cycle: 2017

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Government ICT Authority

Support Institution(s): All government ministries and units, the Budgets Department in the Ministry of Finance, the headquarters of Digital Israel in the Ministry of Social Equality, the Government Freedom of Information Unit in the Ministry of Justice, Developers, citizens and businesses desiring to make use of information for personal reasons or to develop applications for the public’s benefit

Policy Areas

Access to Information, E-Government, Fiscal Openness, Open Data, Public Participation, Publication of Budget/Fiscal Information

IRM Review

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

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

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?
With the objectives of encouraging the assimilation of innovation in the public sector and in public services, of promoting a policy of Open Government, and of encouraging the use, reprocessing and development of government information by the public and for public benefit, the Israeli government is committed to making all government databases publicly accessible, provided that their publication does not contain identifiable information, and provided that there is no obstacle to their publication by law or due to additional relevant considerations, and while taking into account privacy protection of personal information, information security, etc.
Today, a great deal of government information is being publicized, but in different formats and on diverse websites. Other government information has not yet been publicized. In order to promote transparency and accountability to the public, the commitment changes the default – all of the government databases need to be open, apart from instances when there is a legal obstacle to doing so. The government undertakes to publish the databases on a central website (data.gov.il), in formats enabling free downloading and processing, under an open usage license. What is the commitment?
- Mapping of all government databases
- Making all databases publicly accessible by 2022
- Annual plans for making databases publicly accessible
- Annual report of the implementation of making databases publicly accessible
- Processes of consulting with the public
- Formulating a policy about public entities making databases public accessible
- Creating a performance indicator for implementation of the resolution.
How will the commitment he public contribute to solve tproblem?
The government resolution requires all government ministries to make their databases publicly accessible. To this end, the ministries are mapping all of their databases so that it will be possible to analyze their importance to the public. The public is being given an opportunity to express its position about the order of priorities relative to making databases publicly accessible, and the ministries are obligated to consider the public’s opinion when building action plans for making them publicly accessible. The action plans enable the Government ICT Authority and the Steering Committee for Implementing the Resolution to monitor the progress in implementing the resolution. The Government ICT Authority and the Steering Committee for Implementing the Resolution will allocate budgets to ministries to help implement the resolution, and a policy will be defined in relation to public entities (government companies, local authorities, etc.) to which the government resolution does not apply. The performance indicator for implementation of the resolution will report to the public about the ministries’ progress in implementing the resolution and will encourage expansion of activities to make information publicly accessible.
Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values?
Making databases publicly accessible increases transparency and enables data-based accountability. Processes of civic participation are included in this commitment.
Additional information
- Implementation budget: about NIS 16 million for 2018 – 2019
- Link to a government-wide strategy: Government Resolution No. 1933 of 30.8.2017 regarding improvement of the transfer of government information and making government databases publicly accessible, and Government Resolution No. 4515 of 01.04.2012 regarding Israel’s joining the OGP and the appointment of the Israeli Open Government Forum.
Milestone Activity with a verifiable deliverable: Mapping all the databases in government ministries and support units*
1/1/2017*
31/12/2017*
Submitting a multi-year plan for making all databases publicly accessible by 2022* (at least 80% of government ministries and units have submitted multi-year work plans for making all databases publicly accessible)
1/1/2017*
31/12/2017*
Publishing work plans for public comments
1/1/2018
31/2/2018
Adjusting work plans according to the public comments
31/1/2018
31/5/2017
Allocating resources to government ministries to encourage accessibility*
Annual*
31/12/2018
31/12/2019
Publishing an annual report about those databases that were made publicly
Annual*
31/3/2018
31/3/2019
accessible during the past year on data.gov.il and a report on usage of the databases*
Creating a performance indicator for implementing the resolution, including reference to standards for open information and to the quality of the databases
30/09/2017
31/03/2018
Creating a mechanism enabling citizens to provide feedback on the databases and to request new databases with an SLA
01/01/2018
30/06/2018
Defining an anonymization /privacy protection policy when making databases publicly accessible
30/09/2017
30/06/2018 Preparing a background document for formulating a policy about public entities making databases publicly accessible
31/03/2018
30/06/2018 Formulating a policy document on the subject of public entities making databases publicly accessible
30/6/2019

IRM Midterm Status Summary

10. Making databases publicly accessible

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan: [30]

With the objectives of encouraging the assimilation of innovation in the public sector and in public services, of promoting a policy of Open Government, and of encouraging the use, reprocessing and development of government information by the public and for public benefit, the Israeli government is committed to making all government databases publicly accessible, provided that their publication does not contain identifiable information, and provided that there is no obstacle to their publication by law or due to additional relevant considerations, and while taking into account privacy protection of personal information, information security, etc. Today, a great deal of government information is being publicized, but in different formats and on diverse websites. Other government information has not yet been publicized. In order to promote transparency and accountability to the public, the commitment changes the default – all of the government databases need to be open, apart from instances when there is a legal obstacle to doing so. The government undertakes to publish the databases on a central website (data.gov.il), in formats enabling free downloading and processing, under an open usage license.

The commitment includes the following steps:

  • Mapping of all government databases
  • Making all databases publicly accessible by 2022
  • Annual plans for making databases publicly accessible 39
  • Annual report of the implementation of making databases publicly accessible
  • Processes of consulting with the public
  • Formulating a policy about public entities making databases public accessible
  • Creating a performance indicator for implementation of the resolution.

Milestones

10.1 Mapping all the databases in government ministries and support units*

10.2 Submitting a multiyear plan for making all databases publicly accessible by 2022* (at least 80% of government ministries and units have submitted multi-year work plans for making all databases publicly accessible)

10.3 Publishing work plans for public comments

10.4 Adjusting work plans according to the public comments

10.5 Allocating resources to government ministries to encourage accessibility*

10.6 Publishing an annual report about those databases that were made publicly accessible during the past year on data.gov.il and a report on usage of the databases*

10.7 Creating a performance indicator for implementing the resolution, including reference to standards for open information and to the quality of the databases

10.8 Creating a mechanism enabling citizens to provide feedback on the databases and to request new databases with an SLA

10.9 Defining an anonymization/privacy protection policy when making databases publicly accessible

10.10 Preparing a background document for formulating a policy about public entities making databases publicly accessible

10.11 Formulating a policy document on the subject of public entities making databases publicly accessible

* As per Government Resolution No. 1933 of 30.8.2016.

Start Date: January 2017

End date: June 2019

Context and Objectives

Data.gov websites have been a hallmark of the information and transparency revolution in several countries. Israel launched data.gov.il in May 2012, but the use of the website and the volume of databases presented in it remained limited. This was partly due to lack of enthusiasm among the ministries to open up their databases and also due to technical problems. [31] In August 2016, the government adopted a more ambitious resolution committing to open up all government databases that do not raise privacy, national security, or similar concerns. [32] This program also included for the first time a commitment to allocate budgeting for ministries to help them carry out this effort.

This commitment primarily aims to implement this 2016 resolution. Most of its milestones (mapping, planning, allocating resources, creating indicators, defining policies, etc.) are preparatory steps that are required (according to the commitment framers) to implement the government resolution. In the course of preparing to publicize the databases, public participation components are included, such as receiving public comments and adjusting the program accordingly (milestones 10.3 and 10.4) and creating tools for citizen feedback (milestone 10.8).

The goal of this commitment is easily verifiable by examining the databases that will be presented to the public. Some of the milestones are less verifiable (such as “adjusting work plans” or “creating a mechanism to . . .” However, this is not a major limitation, as some of these milestones do not present major stages in this project’s implementation.

It should be noted that this commitment, as written, does not commit the government to a certain format that would facilitate easier and more widespread use of these databases. As mentioned above, it focuses on the activities surrounding the core of a data website. Nevertheless, it does address two major obstacles to full and proactive disclosure of large amounts of information—allocating budget to create a sophisticated, easily searchable, and navigable site along with providing the means to deal with privacy concerns. If it will indeed create solutions in these two fields, to allow large-scale publications to follow, it could have a moderate impact on improving access to information.

Next steps

Moving forward, the IRM researchers recommend setting more specific objectives, such as providing the number of databases to be released each year until the goal of full disclosure is achieved and the databases’ formats. It is also recommended that the government consider creating tools to help citizens understand different databases and how to utilize them.

[30] Government OCT Authority, Open Government Action Plan for 2018 – 2019, pgs. 38-42
https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Israel_Action-Plan_2017-2019_EN.pdf
[31] MK Michael Eitan, who was at the time the Minister for Improvement of Government Services to the Public said in an interview in 2012, “I had to beg, cuddle, hug, shout for the to get this moving… we’re calling all the ministries to convince them to add datasets. Slowly, slowly, it’s growing. The site should reach thousands of databases. Seventy-something is a joke… It’s unbelievable how much effort needs to go into something that can flow and has enormous economical importance.” Omer Kabir, “Developers: Lack of Government Information Prevents Development of Applications,” Kabirism blog, available at: http://kabirism.com/?p=592 [in Hebrew]. See also p.21 of the End-of-Term report for Israel’s second action plan regarding a similar commitment: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Israel_End-Term_Report_2015-2017_EN.pdf.
[32] Government resolution 1933 of Aug 30, 2016. Available at: https://www.gov.il/he/departments/policies/2016_dec1933 [in Hebrew]

IRM End of Term Status Summary

10. Making databases publicly accessible

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan: [45]

With the objectives of encouraging the assimilation of innovation in the public sector and in public services, of promoting a policy of Open Government, and of encouraging the use, reprocessing and development of government information by the public and for public benefit, the Israeli government is committed to making all government databases publicly accessible, provided that their publication does not contain identifiable information, and provided that there is no obstacle to their publication by law or due to additional relevant considerations, and while taking into account privacy protection of personal information, information security, etc. Today, a great deal of government information is being publicized, but in different formats and on diverse websites. Other government information has not yet been publicized. In order to promote transparency and accountability to the public, the commitment changes the default – all of the government databases need to be open, apart from instances when there is a legal obstacle to doing so. The government undertakes to publish the databases on a central website (data.gov.il), in formats enabling free downloading and processing, under an open usage license.

The commitment includes the following steps:

  • Mapping of all government databases
  • Making all databases publicly accessible by 2022
  • Annual plans for making databases publicly accessible
  • Annual report of the implementation of making databases publicly accessible
  • Processes of consulting with the public
  • Formulating a policy about public entities making databases public accessible
  • Creating a performance indicator for implementation of the resolution.

Milestones

10.1 Mapping all the databases in government ministries and support units*

10.2 Submitting a multiyear plan for making all databases publicly accessible by 2022* (at least 80% of government ministries and units have submitted multi-year work plans for making all databases publicly accessible)

10.3 Publishing work plans for public comments

10.4 Adjusting work plans according to the public comments

10.5 Allocating resources to government ministries to encourage accessibility*

10.6 Publishing an annual report about those databases that were made publicly accessible during the past year on data.gov.il and a report on usage of the databases*

10.7 Creating a performance indicator for implementing the resolution, including reference to standards for open information and to the quality of the databases

10.8 Creating a mechanism enabling citizens to provide feedback on the databases and to request new databases with an SLA

10.9 Defining an anonymization/privacy protection policy when making databases publicly accessible

10.10 Preparing a background document for formulating a policy about public entities making databases publicly accessible

10.11 Formulating a policy document on the subject of public entities making databases publicly accessible

* As per Government Resolution No. 1933 of 30.8.2016.

Start Date: January 2017

End date: June 2019

This commitment is the implementation of government resolution 1933, which attempts to pro-actively disclose to the public all government databases, short of those whose publication raises concerns regarding privacy, national security, or anything related. [46] The planned activities included mapping all government databases and launching a public consultation process, among others, in order to fully implement the resolution by 2022. The motivation behind the government resolution rests mostly on the possible contribution to innovation and entrepreneurship in the free market. [47]

This commitment required extensive measures taken across many different agencies. According to interviewed government officials, 95 percent of the databases were mapped. [48] It should, however, be mentioned that the file presenting the mapping consists of only a little over one thousand databases, which is limited given the scope of government agencies. [49] Budgets have been allocated according to government sources, and the majority of ministries have turned in their multi-year plans to make their respective datasets available.

Some milestones were changed during implementation due to the complexity of the planned activities. A move from an agency-based structure of the data.gov site to a theme-based structure required changes in some of the other stages of work with ministries and brought about delays. Also, many activities expected to end in late 2017 or in the first half of 2018 are yet to be implemented. These include the forming the criteria to assess progress in government resolution implementation, setting up a mechanism to allow citizens to provide feedback on published data, and creating an anonymization policy to allow publication of certain, more sensitive, datasets.

Since the implementation of this commitment is still in progress, its contribution to opening up government databases was marginal by the end of the action plan period. There are around 750 datasets available on the data.gov website. While this figure is nearly four times more than what was available before the action plan, it remains low for a country and government the size of Israel. Some of the more popular datasets, each viewed between 500–1500 times on the site (according to the counters on each page), include datasets from the Israeli mapping center, information on flights and public transportation from the Ministry of Transportation, and registries from the Ministry of Tourism (hotels, tour guides, etc.). These are assumingly used by professionals (for instance, planners in the case of mapping and tour organizers for hotels or guides) and private citizens. For example, sometimes third parties access these datasets, like datasets on flights (which update every 15 minutes) or public transportation lines, and present them in more appealing ways online. [50]

[45] “Open Government Action Plan for 2018–2019”, Government OCT Authority, pp. 38–42, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Israel_Action-Plan_2017-2019_EN.pdf.

[46] “Open Government Action Plan for 2018–2019”, Government OCT Authority, pg. 33, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Israel_Action-Plan_2017-2019_EN.pdf.

[47] As per the language of the resolution.

[48] Ms. Rachel Ran, Prime Minister’s office, several phone interviews and correspondences with government point of contact, October–November 2019.

[49] For comparative purposes, the researchers looked into the volume of datasets published in other countries. In Canada, whose population is four times that of Israel, the federal government alone publishes more than 10,000 datasets (see: open.canada.ca/en/open-data); In the United Kingdom, whose government is seven times that of Israel, the government publishes more than 50,000 datasets (see: data.gov.uk); In Australia, whose population is about three times that of Israel, the government publishes nearly 85,000 datasets (data.gov.au), and in Ireland and New Zealand, each with a population a little over a half of that of Israel, publish nearly 9,000 datasets each (data.gov.ie and data.govt.nz). All these numbers refer to actually published datasets; the number of mapped databases may be higher.

[50] See for instance the website madlan.co.il, which uses some of these datasets to geographically present information relevant for potential homebuyers (on schools and reported real estate deals), or bus.co.il, relying on public transportation datasets to present information on bus lines.


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, Anti-Corruption

  7. Transparency Criteria

    IL0029, 2017, Access to Information

  8. Publication of Information Legislative Amendments

    IL0030, 2017, Access to Information

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

    IL0031, 2017, E-Government

  10. Publicly Accessible Databases

    IL0032, 2017, Access to Information

  11. Remotely Accessing Government Services

    IL0033, 2017, Access to Justice

  12. Paperless Government

    IL0034, 2017, E-Government

  13. Open-Source Code

    IL0035, 2017, Access to Information

  14. Evaluation of Open Government Plan

    IL0036, 2017,

  15. Contracting Between the Government and Private Sector

    IL0016, 2015, Access to Information

  16. Unified Website for Government Offices

    IL0017, 2015,

  17. Data.Gov

    IL0018, 2015, Access to Information

  18. Public's Satisfaction with Government Services

    IL0019, 2015, Public Participation

  19. ATI on Legislation

    IL0020, 2015, Open Regulations

  20. Civic Participation Tools

    IL0021, 2015, E-Government

  21. Civic Participation

    IL0022, 2015, Open Regulations

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

    IL0014, 2015, Access to Information

  23. Web for FOI

    IL0015, 2015, Access 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 Openness

  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, Open Regulations

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

    IL0007, 2012, Access to Information

  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

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