‘Open by Design’ Pilots (NL0033)
Action Plan: Netherlands Action Plan 2018-2020
Action Plan Cycle: 2018
Lead Institution: Rijk aan Informatie programme
Support Institution(s): • Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, confirmed • Municipality of Bodegraven-Reeuwijk, confirmed • Dutch National Archives (advice regarding sustainable accessibility), confirmed • Province of Zuid-Holland (tbc) • Municipality of Utrecht (tbc) • ILT (tbc) • Other ministries, provinces, municipalities • Instituut Maatschappelijke Innovatie (Institute for Social Innovation) (advice and coordination) • Open State Foundation
Policy AreasAccess to Information, E-Government, Open Data, Open Regulations, Records Management
‘Open by Design’ pilots
Start and end dates of the action point: 1 July 2018 - 30 June 2020
Main action owner (organisation) Rijk aan Informatie programme
Description of the action point
Which social issue does the action point seek to address? A lot of government information was already openly available in the Netherlands in 2018. But at the same time, there is much more government information that could be made publicly available without any problem. However, practical considerations prevent this information from being made public now.
This is a problem since the public availability of government information is considered to be a democratic obligation. Information that is financed by public funds should in principle also be available to the public. Citizens are entitled to see what is done with their tax money, which rules apply, what policy is initiated, which permits are granted, and what the government does.
Furthermore, government information is an important resource that new products or services can be based on and it thus makes a contribution to the economy and to innovation.
Active openness can also contribute to pushing back costly and time-intensive requests under the Dutch Open Government Act (Wet Openbaarheid van Bestuur - WOB).
And finally, if government information is openly available, this will contribute to the possibilities to monitor government actions, thus preventing waste. Making information publicly available enables benchmarking and comparing the performance of different authorities.
Active openness should therefore be arranged at the start of the primary process: ‘Open by Design’. If active openness remains confined to the ‘ex post’ earmarking of a number of documents or datasets that are suited to actively being made openly available, the extent and topicality of these documents and this data will always be limited. This will lead to extra work, arbitrariness, and greatly outdated files.
What is the action point? To achieve proper access to government information, it is important that openness and open standards are taken into consideration as much as possible when designing information systems. In order to establish what this means for information systems, experience will have to be gathered through a number of pilots. Open standards, open formats for reusability, meta data and linked data for findability and cohesion, privacy, security and accessibility are aspects that come into play here.
Some five to ten government organisations are therefore going to start pilots with ‘Open by Design’, where the openness of some categories of information is controlled and fine-tuned in the ‘engine room of public administration’.
How will the action point contribute to remedying the social issue? Citizens, companies and community organisations will get up-to-date information about various subjects, e.g. permits, government performance, financial information, research reports. Sharing knowledge and information will put other parties in a better position to develop policy alternatives or build new apps (similar to the Buienradar weather forecast app, but then for applications concerning safety and security, education, healthcare, sustainability, parking, etc.).
Steps for the individual pilots:
1. Intake, go or no go
2. Exploration of information categories. Which categories of government information are suitable for 'open by design'? Identify 1-3 categories for a pilot.
3. Quick scan of technical options. Which technical routes are possible in terms of system requirements? How to deal with privacy and security? What seems to be the most logical method of granting access: through a website, portal, open municipal council information system or otherwise?
4. Process and organisation. What is needed in terms of process, organisation, finances? What will it mean for the behaviour of the employees involved?
5. Implementation of pilot, rapid prototyping.
6. Conclusions and recommendations. Functional requirements for information systems. Possible follow-up steps.
Why is this action point relevant to OGP values? Open by Design will contribute to more information being released and to its quality and accessibility being improved.
Open by Design will also improve the opportunities for the public to influence decisions. Publishing proposed legislation (legislative consultation), policy evaluations and research reports, or the agendas of administrative bodies will offer the public the opportunity to participate and to provide their input.
And it is also relevant to public accountability.
The ‘Open by Design’ pilots intersect with other government programmes such as Rijk aan Informatie, the MOOI (Modernisation of the publication of government information) programme and the efforts of VNG Realisatie concerning Open Municipal Council Information.
Milestone with a verifiable result (please note: SMART) Start date: End date:
Recruiting participating partners, the goal is 5-10 authorities (ministries, provinces, municipalities, implementing bodies) 01 March 2018 30 November 2018
Start of pilots in individual organisations 01 July 2018 30 June 2019
Sharing of knowledge among participating organisations (semi-annual meeting). 01 July 2018 30 June 2020
Conclusions and recommendations for follow-up, per organisation 01 January 2019 30 April 2020
General conclusions and recommendations, advice on broad approach and roll-out. 01 January 2020 30 June 2020
Name of the responsible person representing the main action owner Jacqueline Rutjens
Position, organisational unit Programme director of the Rijk aan Informatie programme
Email and phone number Jacqueline.Rutjens@minbzk.nl, 06 4813 7690Other actors involved Authorities involved • Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, confirmed
• Municipality of Bodegraven-Reeuwijk, confirmed
• Dutch National Archives (advice regarding sustainable accessibility), confirmed
• Province of Zuid-Holland (tbc)
• Municipality of Utrecht (tbc)
• ILT (tbc)
• Other ministries, provinces, municipalities
Other organisations or bodies (such as community organisations or the private sector) • Instituut Maatschappelijke Innovatie (Institute for Social Innovation) (advice and coordination)
• Open State Foundation
IRM Midterm Status Summary
8. ‘Open by Design’ pilots
Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:
To achieve proper access to government information, it is important that openness and open standards are taken into consideration as much as possible when designing information systems. In order to establish what this means for information systems, experience will have to be gathered through a number of pilots. Open standards, open formats for reusability, meta data and linked data for findability and cohesion, privacy, security and accessibility are aspects that come into play here.
Some five to ten government organisations are therefore going to start pilots with ‘Open by Design’, where the openness of some categories of information is controlled and fine-tuned in the ‘engine room of public administration’. 
8.1. Recruiting participating partners, the goal is 5-10 authorities (ministries, provinces, municipalities, other implementing bodies).
8.2. Start of pilots in individual organizations.
8.3. Sharing of knowledge among participating organizations (semi-annual meeting).
8.4. Conclusions and recommendations for follow-up, per organization.
8.5. General conclusions and recommendations, advice on broad approach and roll-out.
Start Date: March 2018
End Date: June 2020
Context and Objectives
Proactive disclosure of government-held information, namely the principle that information is publicly available prior to a freedom of information request, is essential in fostering transparency and openness of government. In the Netherlands, disclosure of more data happened over time, for instance, as part of the previous action plan. 
This commitment aims to test in several decentralized governments whether previously undisclosed information can be opened ‘by design’ in order to fine-tune and control openness in public administration. However, while the milestones are verifiable overall, they are not specific. The work only mentions general activities such as starting a pilot (8.2), sharing knowledge among participants (8.3) and drafting and disseminating recommendations (8.4 and 8.5). It is also unclear via what mechanism disclosure it would take place and what exact information is envisaged. The introductory text mentions more detailed plans regarding the design of pilot projects and includes important guiding questions, such as what categories of government information are suitable for ‘open by design’, as well as enquiries on what technical tools and instruments would be required for its implementation. However, those deliberations and their possible answers were not carried over in any of the milestones. Depending on the answers to those questions, sequencing could become an important consideration for the pilot to succeed, but this is not reflected on.
Provided that pilots proceed successfully, this work is relevant to the OGP value of access to information. Given the unclear formulation of the exact types of government information to be disclosed, the absence of a clear timeline, and description of the process that leads to information creation, its potential impact is scored as minor.
The IRM researcher recommends the following:
- Prioritize discussions over the right technical solution and challenges owing to the use of different systems across government, while linking it to sequence and milestones.
- Construct the pilots to provide answers on what a good portal for proactive publication looks like and functions. Involve and identify end-users as well as those that enter or manage the data currently; share ownership in going forward with such stakeholders.
- In consultation with citizens, CSOs, journalists, activists, etc., develop a list of information categories that are considered most valuable or important for open government; i.e. budget documents, commercial contracts, financial reports, and use that to select what information should first be made open by design and why.
- Explore the synergies with other commitments in the action plan. In particular Open Raads Informatie, Open Wob and Open Contracting could be considered as open by design pilots as they all deal with high-value topics (policy reports and documents, budget and contracts, freedom of information, etc.). In doing so, the government could actively seek to prevent duplication of efforts, and pool possible resources and goodwill, as well as promote shared solutions as much as possible, particularly with involved DMS experts and architects early on.
 The complete text of this commitment, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Netherlands_Action-Plan_2018-2020_EN.pdf
 Netherlands OGP Action Plan 2016-2018, Commitment 4: active publication of information, pg. 11, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/LR_91332_Actieplan_ENG_v2_0.pdf
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