Regular Posting and Updating the List of Information Holders (MK0057)
Action Plan: Macedonia, Second Action Plan, 2014-2016
Action Plan Cycle: 2014
Lead Institution: Ministry of Information Society and Administration, Commission for the Protection of the Right to Free Access to Public Information
Support Institution(s): All information holders
Policy AreasCapacity Building
Regular posting and updating the list of information holders
IRM End of Term Status Summary
VI. Open Data: Inventories and Proactive Transparency
Commitment 2.1: Proactive Open Data Access
Commitment Text: 2.1. Open data of the bodies and public sector institutions according to their technical features which they create in exercise of their powers that will be made available for use.
Commitment 2.3: Open Data Catalog
Commitment Text: 2.3. Establishing a Central catalog of public sector data published for use […] http://www.otvorenipodatoci.gov.mk (opendata.gov.mk).
Commitment 2.4: Open Data Contact Persons
Commitment Text: 2.4. Establishing a database for the contact person in [public] institutions […] responsible for the technical adaptation and publishing of [accurate] data […] on the website of the authority and […] the catalog […].
Commitment 3.4: Access to Information Contact Persons
Commitment Text: 3.4. Regular posting and updating the list of information holders [and] implementation of the legislative obligation […].
Commitment 3.5: Proactive Access to Information
Commitment Text: 3.5. Availability of all public information on the web sites of the information holders.
Responsible institution(s): Ministry of Information Society and Administration (MISA); Commission for Protection of the Right to Free Access to Public Information
Supporting institution(s): All information holders
Start Date: 1/4/2014 End Date: 31/12/2016
The commitments in this cluster sought to improve the proactive, online release of information held by public institutions, and to provide datasets in open formats. Prior to Macedonia joining OGP, the proactive release of information inside the country was regulated by the Law on Free Access to Information, but its scope was narrow. The law did not specify the format for released information, and there was an overall lack of implementation. This cluster of commitments aimed to address the gap.
Commitment 2.1: Limited
Commitment 2.3: Not started
Commitment 2.4: Limited
Commitment 3.4: Not started
Commitment 3.5: Not started
Regarding open data (commitment 2.1), the government reported that 154 datasets from 24 institutions were released. The IRM review of datasets on the portal showed that only 90 datasets from 21 institutions were made available. The commitment did not specify the dynamics and scope of the released data, making it difficult to measure. However, the IRM review, plus the number of downloads, suggest that many of the released datasets are of little use to citizens.
A central catalog of public sector data (commitment 2.3) was not created, but the datasets can be filtered, according to the government’s self-assessment report. An Internet search of government ministries confirmed that the catalogs of datasets have not been created and made available, despite the legal requirement to do so.
Commitment 2.4 sought to establish a database of contacts within public institutions who are responsible for managing and updating the datasets. The government reported that it has started building the database using 11 pilot institutions, and will expand it as the commitment moves forward. However, the IRM researcher could not find evidence of the database’s existence, and the contacts for the pilot institutions are for internal use only by the government. In that sense, implementation of this commitment has begun, especially since the adopted legal framework has a much wider scope.
Commitment 3.4 aimed for a “published list of information in accordance with the Law on Free Access to Information,” but the IRM researcher could not find evidence of an update. In its midterm self-assessment, the government did not provide information on the progress of this commitment.
For more information, please see the 2014-2016 IRM midterm report.
End of term
Commitment 2.1: Limited
Commitment 2.3: Not started
Commitment 2.4: Not started
Commitment 3.4: Limited
Commitment 3.5: Limited
There was limited progress on open data. The IRM review of the portal revealed that only four new datasets were released in the second year of implementation. Utilization of the portal is low, and only sparse data have been released. Several datasets were used as follows:
• 7 pieces of data were downloaded more than 100 times
• 12 were downloaded more than 20 times
• 15 were downloaded more than 10 times
• 18 were downloaded more than 5 times
The majority of the released data (87) was never viewed or downloaded. The most frequently downloaded data were:
• Address book of public and private kindergardens
• Number of disabled people per municipality
• Address book of children vacation hostels
• List of health institutions that perform preventive examinations of workers
• List of transfered numbers between mobile operators
The government’s end of term self-assessment report and a review by the IRM researcher showed no further progress on the implementation of commitments 2.3, 2.4, and 3.4.
CSOs proactively monitoring transparency in Macedonia maintained that state and local authorities tend not to comply with statutory obligations for releasing information.[Note 49: German Filkov, Sabina Fakic, and Marko Mitevski, Index of Active Transparency 2016, (Skopje: Center for Civic Communication, 2016), 12 [available at: http://bit.ly/2dumzw6, in Macedonian].] These authorities score better when it comes to information related to obligations from the FOI law, such as the official handling requests for access to information. On average, 61% of ministries and 52% of municipalities have this information.[Note 50: Ibid.] Additionally, fiscal transparency is the weakest area, as budget and spending information is rarely published. For example, recent monitoring by a CSO showed that institutions are more open when they receive a formal request for information, and rarely publish any information proactively, especially information about annual budgets and spending.[Note 51: Association for Emancipation, Solidarity and Equality of Women, Proactive and Reactive Transparency for 2015, (Skopje: ESEM, 2016), [available at: http://bit.ly/2cDMoIq, in Macedonian]. ]
Did it open government?
Access to information: Marginal
Proactive transparency was one of the key priorities identified by civil society in all IRM reviews. Commitments under this cluster all aimed to promote the release of information and datasets proactively, thereby curbing the secretive culture in government.
These commitments changed government practice on proactive transparency only marginally, with the introduction of the new open data portal. There are still serious concerns about the government’s willingness to open information.[Note 52: IRM personal interview with key civil society experts in the area: Qendresa Sulejmani, Marija Sazdov, German Filkov, and Nada Naumovska, September 2016.] Civil society added that data and information were not collected in a timely way or updated, and that the formats in which they are stored limited the usability of such information. Serious efforts are needed to improve the quality and scope of government-held information. Indeed, the government has accepted this issue, and the new OGP action plan contains a measure to ensure the proper cataloguing and recording of data collected and stored by government bodies.[Note 53: OGP National Action Plan, Measure 2.4, 21, 3rd. ]
None but the commitment to strengthen the proactive release of information were carried forward. However, the government stated in its end of term self-assessment that all the activities would continue as competences of the relevant institutions, due to statutory obligations guaranteed by law. Taking into consideration that the legal framework existed before Macedonia joined OGP, but did not guarantee implementation, pushing for compliance in the next action plan is important.