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Philippines

Open Data Portal (PH0059)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Philippines Action Plan 2019-2022

Action Plan Cycle: 2019

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT)

Support Institution(s): Presidential Communications Operations Office – Freedom of Information Project Department of Budget and Management - PhilGEPS – Open Contracting - HIVOS, ANSA, LayerTech, Bantay Kita, Youth-FOI

Policy Areas

Access to Information, Anti-Corruption, Capacity Building, E-Government, Gender, Marginalized Communities, Open Contracting and Public Procurement, Open Data, Public Participation, Public Procurement, Right to Information, Sustainable Development Goals

IRM Review

IRM Report: Philippines Design Report 2019-2021

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

What is the problem the commitment will address?

The Philippine Government generates, collects, and owns data from almost all of its mandate executions. Despite the number of data available in different means and formats, the usage, particularly by the general public, is sub-optimal. There exists a number of barriers that inhibit government data from attaining not only its economic value, but also its true and intrinsic potential as building blocks for good governance. The challenges include but are not limited to the following:
● Low utilization of data due to scattered government sources across various locations and domains;
● Lack of standardized government online content and data that lead to impeded interoperability; and
● Absence of policies within the government system that encourage the publication of data in open formats.

What is the commitment?

The commitment is to increase availability and utilization of government data that will pave the way toward data-driven governance (for the government), and data-driven innovation and development (for the general public). In order to do so, the supply and demand sides of the government data have to be heightened simultaneously.

On the one hand, to address the supply side of data utilization, DICT will be hosting government data and information on their current portals; namely, gov.ph and data.gov.ph. By providing these portals, other government agencies can focus on data and content management instead of managing or developing their own portals. Maintaining designated portals for data and information will address the public concern on scattered government sources, and at the same time, establish standardized online content and templates that will improve interoperability.

The commitment will also focus on implementing policies, standards, and best practices that will mandate agencies to contribute open data and information.

On the other hand, to address the demand side, the DICT will obtain data from the Freedom of Information (FOI) Program, and the requests that they receive and process. The Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System’s (PhilGEPS) open data portal primarily focused on Open Contracting can also be an input to the Open Data Philippines (ODPh). Civil society organizations (CSOs) can also participate and assist by identifying highly needed open data stemming from their operations.

The approach is to target ‘low hanging’ and ‘high impact’ data and information that will be prioritized with the help of government agencies and CSOs to improve its services. Moreover, the DICT aims to conduct Information, Education, and Information (IEC) campaigns for this initiative through quality data visualizations and storytelling. Dialogues and forums will also improve the usefulness and utilization of government data.

See Action Plan for milestone activities

IRM Midterm Status Summary

3. Expand and Improve the Open Data Philippines Portal

"The commitment is to increase availability and utilization of government data that will pave the way toward data-driven government (for the government), and data-driven innovation and development (for the general public). In order to do so, the supply and demand sides of the government data have to be heightened simultaneously.

The commitment will also focus on implementing policies, standards, and best practices that will mandate agencies to contribute open data and information."

Main Objective

"The commitment is the key and measurable end goal to achieve data-driven governance and policies. Specifically, the commitment will address the three specific public problems identified through the following:

  1. The commitment will address issues on low data utilization as the use of the portal can be enhanced through data analytics that can measure the number of users and most downloaded data in the ODPh;
  2. By having standardized content, the marketing of the portal can become easier. Moreover, consistent data and online content will foster more consumption in terms of data analysis, wherein the general public can use the data for statistics and baseline studies; and
  3. The implementation of policies, standards, and best practices will improve government systems and processes that will lead to interoperability to achieve ease of doing business and citizen transactions."

Milestones

  1. Release of signed policies and guidelines to institutionalize the Open Data Philippines.
  2. ODPh Awareness campaigns to all stakeholders including government agencies, local government, CSOs and Filipino citizens in general.
  3. Dialogues or Forum with CSOs to determine priority and “most requested data.”
  4. 100% increase of baseline number of government agencies to contribute data in the ODPh portal.
  5. System enhancement of ODPh and GovPH portal features, user interface (UI), and user experience (UX).
  6. Presence of gender-aggregated data of ODPh portal users, and feedback results.
  7. Compliance with the Accessibility guidelines as prescribed by DICT MC No. 2017-004 entitled “Prescribing Web Accessibility Policy and Adopting for the Purpose of ISO/IEC 40500:2012 Information Technology - W3C Web Content accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) as the Philippine Standard for Making Web Content More Accessible to a Wider Range of People with Disabilities.

Editorial Note: For the complete text of this commitment, along with the updated version submitted in the revised action plan, please see the Philippine action plan at https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/philippines-action-plan-2019-2022/.

Commitment analysis

This commitment seeks to increase the availability and use of government data in an open data format. The Open Data Philippines (ODPh) office will centralize and standardize the hosting of and access to government data. Government agencies and CSO partners will collaborate to identify and prioritize the data and information that will be published through the ODPh.

The Constitution recognizes the vital role of communication and information in nation-building. Further affirmed in Republic Act (RA) 10844 (the “Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Act of 2015”), the government must provide strategic, reliable, cost-efficient, and citizen-centric information and communication technology infrastructure, systems, and resources as instruments of good governance and global competitiveness. [38]

At present, however, despite Executive Order (EO) No. 2 (the Freedom of Information (FOI) EO), government data are still hosted separately by each respective agency in their own portals, websites, and archiving mechanisms. [39] CSOs and citizens must search various sources to find information and make a FOI request when the information is unavailable. Other centralized disclosure mechanisms include the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS) for procurement-related information, the former Open Data Initiative and Project Digital Imaging for Monitoring & Evaluation of the of the Department of Budget and Management, and the full disclosure policy portal of the Department of the Interior and Local Government. [40]

Beginning development in 2015, the ODPh portal was envisioned as a one-stop shop for online government services, operational infrastructure, and public information. With ODPh functioning as the national government portal, citizens will no longer need to physically visit a government office or navigate through different government agency websites to perform basic transactions, such as applying for a driver’s license, filing taxes, and renewing a passport. [41]

This commitment is relevant to the OGP values of access to information and civic participation. Civil society will help to prioritize government data to be published through the ODPh portal. CSO partners will also help shape process and content requirements.

The Philippines sought to improve the Open Data Portal under the 2015–2017 action plan. [42] There were some training and orientation sessions for government agencies. However, the initiative faced both institutional and technical challenges. Agencies resisted new procedures and lacked incentives to upload data. Some agencies were not aware of the requirement and others did not feel data sharing to be important. Therefore, agency adoption of the open data portal was slow, which limited the data available to the public. Technical challenges included differing data formats and websites across agencies and lack of a feeder system or automatic process. [43]

According to the DICT, the commitment of agency management to open data determines whether an agency participates in the portal. [44] Legislation would require the DICT to establish an E-Government Master Plan. This would include an interoperability framework to guide basic technical interoperability of ICT systems across government agencies, the archiving and record management system, and the government’s online payment system. [45]

This commitment has a minor potential impact. The activities included address gradual but positive steps toward a robust ODPh portal. Plans to closely partner with CSOs to prioritize and publish data is commendable. Milestones on agency guidance and awareness raising may address obstacles that hindered the Philippines’ 2015 open data commitment. However, there are still significant obstacles to overcome, such as unifying the various existing portals and open data policies.

From the civil society side, CSOs note that the government needs to first delineate the ODPh portal’s role against that of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) which operates and maintains the FOI portal. [46] By virtue of Section 6 1-a of RA 10844, the DICT must form, recommend, and implement national policies, programs, and guidelines that will promote the development and use of ICT with due consideration to the advantages of convergence and emerging technologies. Meanwhile, by virtue of the FOI EO, the PCOO is tasked to fulfill the people’s constitutional right to information and support the state policies on full public disclosure and transparency in public service delivery.

As the Philippine Congress continues to debate the E-Government Bill, the DICT can make a strong case for it by leveraging the ODPh portal. However, stakeholders would need to navigate the maze of institutional arrangements for hosting government data through different mechanisms such as the PhilGEPS and the FOI portals. It is also important to note that the national government portal has spent several years in development but has not generated as much support and enthusiasm, which could indicate a real problem in the implementation of this commitment.

Next Steps

Given the ensuing confusion between the mandates and functions of the ODPh and the FOI portals, the PCOO and the DICT need to revisit their mandates to clarify and delineate their respective roles. [47] Otherwise, the overlap could stunt this commitment’s implementation. For example, the distinction could be that the ODPh portal would publish government data proactively based on information stored by individual agencies, while the FOI portal manages and responds to information requests filed by citizens.

Previous IRM reports suggest that agencies’ hesitancy and obstacles to upload data was a major challenge to a comprehensive Open Data Portal. Therefore, the IRM recommends prioritizing cross-government understanding, buy-in, and incentives to facilitate agency participation. [48]

[38] Philippines’ Dept. of Information and Communications Technology, “Republic Act No. 10844” (23 May 2016), https://dict.gov.ph/about-us/republic-act-no-10844/.
[39] Aida Yuvienco (Department of Information and Communications Technology of the Republic of the Philippines), interview by IRM researcher, 5 Jun. 2020.
[40] Sandino Soliman (Program Officer for Advocacy, CODE-NGO), interview by IRM researcher, 29 May 2020.
[42] Joy Aceron, Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM): Philippines End-of-Term Report 2015-2017 (OGP, 29 Jun. 2018), https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/philippines-end-of-term-report-2015-2017-year-2/.
[43] Yuvienco, interview.
[44] Id.
[45] Id.
[46] Vivien Suerte-Cortez (Hivos Southeast Asia), interview by IRM researcher, 25 May 2020.
[47] Soliman, interview.
[48] Aceron, Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM): Philippines End-of-Term Report 2015-2017.

Commitments

Open Government Partnership