Skip Navigation
Netherlands

Open Local Authority Decision-Making (NL0024)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Netherlands 2016-2018 National Action Plan

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG)

Support Institution(s): Open State Foundation, various local authorities, and the Ministry of BZK

Policy Areas

Access to Information, Local Commitments, Open Data, Right to Information

IRM Review

IRM Report: Netherlands End-of-Term Report 2016-2018, Netherlands Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Much of the ‘council information’ currently available to the general public and their elected representatives is unstructured and not in an open, machine-readable format. The information on which decisions have been, or are to be, based is difficult to find. Moreover, it is not possible to compare information produced by different local authorities, even when relating to the same topic. The Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG) have therefore commissioned the Open State Foundation to run a pilot project in which five local authorities will produce and publish information in a standardised, machine-readable format (as open data). This pilot project will create a basis for the publication of such data nationwide. The VNG has announced the attention of rolling out the project to all municipalities as part of its Digital Agenda 2020 programme. If the information on which local authorities base their decisions is made available as open data, it will become possible for members of the public, elected representatives and journalists to follow the decision-making process more closely. They will also have greater influence and input. The open data will also allow the development of further innovative applications and products, such as visualisations, websites and apps. Elected representatives will have new tools to assist them in fulfilling their responsibilities, and this will strengthen interaction with their constituents.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

6. Publication of open data standard

Commitment Text:

Title: Open local authority decision-making

Much of the ‘council information’ currently available to the general public and their elected representatives is unstructured and not in an open, machine-readable format. The information on which decisions have been, or are to be, based is difficult to find. Moreover, it is not possible to compare information produced by different local authorities, even when relating to the same topic. The Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG) have therefore commissioned the Open State Foundation to run a pilot project in which five local authorities will produce and publish information in a standardised, machine-readable format (as open data). This pilot project will create a basis for the publication of such data nationwide.

Milestones:

1. Development and adoption of a standard for the publication of information as open data, in a form which is reliable, reusable and permits ready comparison.

2. The standard will have been implemented by all Dutch municipalities by June 30th 2018.

Responsible institution: Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG)

Supporting institution(s): Open State Foundation, various local authorities and the Ministry of BZK

Start date: 1 January 2016 End date: 30 June 2018

Editorial Note: This is a truncated version of the milestone text. For the full commitment text, please see The Netherlands National Action Plan (https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/Netherlands_NAP-Appendix_2016-2018_EN_revised-with-changes.pdf)

Context and Objectives

Much of local council information, such as agendas and minutes of council meetings, is currently available but not provided to the general public and their elected representatives in an open, structured and machine-readable format. The information on which decisions have been, or are to be, based is difficult to find. It is not possible to compare information from different local authorities.

The Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG) have commissioned the Open State Foundation (OSF) to run a pilot with five local authorities to provide and publish information in standardized, machine-readable format. The commitment lists two milestones: milestone one aims to develop and adopt the standard for the publication of information as open data. The first version of this standard was due to be decided upon in 2017. Milestone two aims to implement the standard in all Dutch municipalities in June 2018. Overall, the specificity of this commitment is medium.

This commitment meets the criteria for the OGP value of access to information by promoting the transparency of government decision making and publishing the relevant information as open data.

Providing and publishing information in a standardized, machine-readable format is a major step toward increasing the quality of information for citizens and reducing inconvenience. The potential impact of this commitment is moderate, however, since the VNG, the leading institution, is not in a position to enforce the implementation of the standard in all Dutch municipalities by June 2018.

Completion

According to the government self-assessment report, a draft standard is being discussed with suppliers of municipal council information. XX[Note94: Midterm self-assessment report, opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/Netherlands_Mid-term_Self-Assessment-Report_2016-2018_EN.pdf.]XX No other information has been provided to the IRM researcher. Few milestones have been completed on time.

Being a decentralized state, the national government cannot enforce which systems or standards municipalities use. This also applies to KING and OSF, the two implementing organizations. They reported that 100 out of 388 local governments have taken an interest in the project, but there is no disclosed evidence of this yet. Another barrier to implementation is that the systems are under public procurement and therefore they cannot always be quickly replaced by the local governments. At the moment, 16 local governments have published their data on a website. XX[Note95: Open Council information, depilotstarter.vng.nl/sturen-op-resultaten/toepassing-open-raadsinformatie.]XX These data are in open format. Some suppliers of information systems are cooperating with the project, while others are not (yet). XX[Note96: openraadsinformatie.nl.]XX

Next Steps

The IRM researcher recommends that the focus of this commitment be altered in the next action plan. Rather than expanding the quantity of data, which the VNG cannot legally enforce, the government should instead consider actions that can be taken to improve the quality of data.

Survey respondents have stated that they are unable to find data, and that there is a lack of information on the topic. To address these problems, the government should consider developing user-friendly apps or tools that can be used by council members, experts, and the general public for accessing published data (such as data on the 2018 council elections). Additionally, information should be disclosed as soon as possible, so that people can follow and influence the decision-making process as soon as it begins.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

Commitment 6. Publication of open data standard

Commitment Text:

Open local authority decision-making

Much of the ‘council information’ currently available to the general public and their elected representatives is unstructured and not in an open, machine-readable format. The information on which decisions have been, or are to be, based is difficult to find. Moreover, it is not possible to compare information produced by different local authorities, even when relating to the same topic. The Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG) have therefore commissioned the Open State Foundation to run a pilot project in which five local authorities will produce and publish information in a standardised, machine-readable format (as open data). This pilot project will create a basis for the publication of such data nationwide.

Milestones:

  1. Development and adoption of a standard for the publication of information as open data, in a form which is reliable, reusable and permits ready comparison.
  2. The standard will have been implemented by all Dutch municipalities by June 30th 2018.

Editorial Note: This is a truncated version of the milestone text. For the full commitment text, please see the Netherlands national action plan (https://bit.ly/30UBDHL).

Commitment Aim

The Open State Foundation (OSF) runs a pilot with five local authorities to provide and publish information in standardized, machine-readable format. The commitment lists two milestones: Milestone 1 aims to develop and adopt the standard for the publication of information as open data. The first version of this standard was due to be decided in 2017. Milestone 2 aims to implement the standard in all Dutch municipalities by June 2018.

Status

Midterm: Limited

This commitment was limited in completion by midterm. Though the lead institutions reported that 100 out of 388 local governments took an interest in the project, there was no evidence of action yet. By September 2017, 16 local governments published their data in open format on a website.

End of term: Substantial

According to the website waaroverheid.nl, which uses the information that is being uploaded to the Open Council information website, 108 out of 380 municipalities are active on Open Council information. A test by the IRM researcher in her home town on a neighborhood level showed that it is a visually-oriented and easy-to-use website. She could click on the map and all the relevant documents for the particular neighborhood were shown. After that, she could open the documents of her choice. This is useful for citizens who do not have to try to find documents by query in the municipality’s website search engines or by other more advanced search methods anymore. Milestone 1 promised the standard to be adopted by all municipalities. Since there is no finalized standard yet, and a minority of local governments are participating, this milestone cannot be considered to be complete.

In July 2018, VNG Realisatie (formerly known as KING) invited municipalities to discuss a model of the standard (model 1.0) and the use of Open Council information. [26] The messenger standard is expected to be finalized at the end of 2018. Since there is no standard yet, Milestone 2 is therefore substantial in completion. Overall, the completion level is assessed as substantial.

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Marginal

The number of participating municipalities raised from 16 to 108. According to the information on the website, half a million documents, which were extracted from the original municipality’s websites, can be found on the website. Centralizing the information and increasing the number of participating municipalities is a positive shift in government practice. However, it is still marginal, considering the total amount of municipalities aspired to adopt the standard under this commitment.

Carried Forward?
[26] “Open Council information”, VNG Realisatie, modified 6 June 2019, https://www.vngrealisatie.nl/producten/pilots-open-raadsinformatie.

Commitments

Open Government Partnership