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Sri Lanka

Promote the Open Data Concept and Delivering the Benefits to Citizens Through ICT (LK0006)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Sri Lanka National Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure

Support Institution(s): Information and Telecommunication Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) and CSOs involved in ICT

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, Open Data, Public Participation, Records Management

IRM Review

IRM Report: Sri Lanka End-of-Term Report 2016-2018, Sri Lanka Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Civic Participation , Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

The necessity of Open Data for both Government and citizens has been well defined under the OGP. However, the Concept of Open Data is yet to be conveyed to a wide range of stakeholders by the strategic usage of ICT. Further, there is a need to define the boundaries of government’s openness, hence a standard mechanism for data classification, which must be mandatorily backed by a government policy directive. The benefits of OGP, in return should reach citizens through innovative ICT tools, as successfully demonstrated by other countries of this partnership. Issues to be Addressed: Citizens’ lack of opportunities to effectively access government held data and improving the accessibility of the same. Main Objective: Promote Open Data using ICT platforms and ensure citizens get its benefits using similar technologies

IRM End of Term Status Summary

6. Promote Open Data

Commitment Text:

Promote the Open Data Concept and delivering the benefits to Citizens through ICT

The necessity of Open Data for both Government and citizens has been well defined under OGP. However, the Concept of Open Data is yet to be conveyed to a wide range of stakeholders by the strategic usage of ICT. Further, there is a need to define the boundaries of government’s openness, hence a standard mechanism for data classification, which must be mandatorily backed by a government policy directive. The benefits of OGP, in return should reach citizens through innovative ICT tools, as successfully demonstrated by other countries of this partnership.

Main Objective:

Promote Open Data using ICT platforms and ensure citizens get its benefits using similar technologies.

Milestones:

  • 1 Revamp website http://www.data.gov.lk with already available data sets of different government agencies (by ICTA Project #24).
  • 2 Survey on citizens’ demand on government data sets (through Nenasala / Smart Social Circles).
  • 3 Open consultation on Data and Services Classification (with Open Data/Data Sharing Policy) based on the draft prepared by ICTA.
  • 4 Enhance the current 89 data sets of various government institutes and increase it to 200 by end of 2016 and 500 by July 2018 (by ICTA).

Responsible institution: Ministry of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure

Supporting institution: Information and Telecommunication Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA)

Start date: July 2016............ End date: July 2018

Editorial Note: The text of the commitment was abridged for formatting reasons. For full text of the commitment, see the Sri Lanka National Action Plan 2016–2018 at http://bit.ly/2wv3jXR.

Commitment Aim:

This commitment aimed to promote the concept of “open data,” facilitating public access to data and databases on topics of public importance. Stakeholders propose that unrestricted access to such data will support and enable citizens to access, and act upon, information on government policies. They also envision that this access will enable civil society to pursue rational debate and advocacy, and allow decision makers to engage in evidence-informed policy making. [89]

To do this, the commitment specifically set out to:

  • Revamp the Open Data website portal (www.data.gov.lk) with available datasets;
  • Conduct a survey on citizens’ demand for government datasets;
  • Hold an open consultation on data and services classification, based on a draft data-sharing policy prepared by the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA); and,
  • Enhance the current 89 datasets and increase it to 500 by July 2018.

For more information, please see the 2016–2017 IRM midterm progress report.

 

Status

Midterm: Limited

The commitment achieved limited completion by the midterm. In May 2017, ICTA revamped the online web portal, which contained over 80 datasets (Milestone 6.1). [90] As part of the revamp, new features were introduced. These included a user option to suggest new datasets; [91] tags attributed to datasets for easier navigation; and linkage of the web portal to social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. [92] While this represented a notable development, other milestones under this commitment remained outstanding.

Although the MTDI commenced the process of procuring a consultant to carry out the survey, it did not complete the citizen demand survey by the midterm (Milestone 6.2). [93] Similarly, government and civil society stakeholders confirmed that the MTDI had not yet organised a consultation on data classification (Milestone 6.3). The ICTA had developed a draft data-sharing policy and published it, in English, on the online data portal. [94]

As of December 2017, the online portal contained 89 multiform datasets under nine broad thematic areas (Milestone 6.4). With no increase toward the targeted 500 by July 2018, the ministry noted that new datasets were being identified for publication on the portal. [95]

End of term: Limited

Completion of this commitment remained limited at the end of term.

Milestone 6.1: Completed.

Milestone 6.2: The MTDI had still not conducted the citizen survey on citizen demand by the end of term, citing time and resource constraints. [96]

Milestone 6.3: The MTDI and ICTA had still not conducted an open consultation on data and services classification by the end of term. [97]

The draft national data-sharing policy continued to be available on the online data portal, but the minister of telecommunications and digital infrastructure had not yet published it in the official gazette. The MTDI noted that the policy will serve as an annex to the updated e-Government Policy of Sri Lanka, and be made available for public review. [98]

Milestone 6.4: The government also fell short of introducing 500 new datasets on the open data portal. According to the MTDI, 118 datasets were published under 11 categories, as of 12 June 2018. [99] The MTDI further noted that government officers responsible for open datasets were nominated and, although no further evidence was provided, the MTDI reported that it internally set up an Open Data Committee to review the quality of available datasets. [100]

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Marginal

Civic Participation: Did Not Change

This commitment led to marginal improvement in access to information and open government overall. It did not, however, noticeably improve civic participation.

At the outset of the action plan, Sri Lanka had little, if any, experience in promoting the idea of open data. Specifically, key stakeholders, including the ICTA, acknowledged that public engagement with data was limited and citizens had, therefore, insufficiently leveraged the potential benefits of open access to data. [101] This commitment aimed to address this by undertaking measures to promote the use of “open data.”

Through this commitment, MTDI and ICTA published new or enhanced datasets on the open data portal. This—according to all stakeholders—not only increased citizen access to more data, but also provided opportunity for citizens to engage with the portal. In addition, civil society suggested that ICTA efforts to revamp the open data portal with a range of new features helped enhance the interface between data holders and data users. [102] However, government or civil society stakeholders did not provide statistics on the number of website visits, and the MTDI did not conduct a survey on citizen demands. The MTDI also fell well short of introducing 500 new datasets on the portal (only 118 datasets had been published as of 12 June 2018). As a result, the commitment only marginally improved access to information.

Civil society recognised that an open consultation on data classification was a good opportunity to facilitate civic participation in the decision-making process. [103] However, as the ministry or ICTA did not hold any public consultation on data classification, this commitment did not improve civic participation. [104]

Carried Forward?

Sri Lanka’s second action plan was not released at the time of this report. However, the IRM researcher recommends that this commitment is carried forward into the next action plan. In particular, the researcher maintains that a dynamic, accessible data portal; a comprehensive collection of datasets that meet citizen demand; and clear, formal classification and delineation of shareable data constitute the foundation of a robust and effective open data regime.

In the 2016–2017 IRM midterm progress report, the IRM researcher proposed recommendations toward strengthening the impact of this commitment. These include: facilitating meaningful civic participation in open data policy making; and generally encouraging deeper public engagement with government data and the data portal.

[89] Waruna Sri-Dhanapala (Ministry of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure), interview by IRM researcher, 16 October 2017; Isura Silva (Sarvodaya Fusion), interview by IRM researcher, 16 October 2017 (taken from the multistakeholder interview involving representatives from the Information and Communication Technology Agency, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Sarvodaya Fusion).

[90] Asanka Suraweera (ICTA) and Thilina Piyumal (ICTA), interview by IRM researcher, 16 October 2017 (taken from the multistakeholder interview involving representatives from the Information and Communication Technology Agency, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Sarvodaya Fusion).

[91] “Suggest a Dataset” (Open Data Portal of Sri Lanka, Information and Communication Technology Agency, 2 May 2017) http://www.data.gov.lk/suggest-data.

[92] “Request Datasets”(Open Data Portal of Sri Lanka, Information and Communication Technology Agency, 2 May 2017) http://www.data.gov.lk/request-datasets.

[93] Sri-Dhanapala, interview; Silva, interview.

[94] “Resources” (Open Data Portal of Sri Lanka, Information and Communication Technology Agency, 2 May 2017) http://www.data.gov.lk/resources-list.

[95] Sri-Dhanapala, interview.

[96] Waruna Sri-Dhanapala, interview by IRM researcher, 26 September 2018; Isura Silva (Sarvodaya Fusion), interview by IRM researcher, 13 September 2018.

[97] Id.

[98] Sri-Dhanapala, interview.

[99] Id.

[100] Id.

[101] Sri-Dhanapala, interview; Suraweera and Piyumal, interview.

[102] Sri-Dhanapala, interview; Silva, interview.

[103] Silva, interview.

[104] Sri-Dhanapala, interview; Silva, interview.


Commitments

  1. Integrity Officers to Decrease Bribery and Corruption

    LK0024, 2019, Capacity Building

  2. Asset Declaration System

    LK0025, 2019, Asset Disclosure

  3. Increase Use of RTI

    LK0026, 2019, E-Government

  4. Citizen Participation in Health

    LK0027, 2019, E-Government

  5. Campaign Against Youth Drug Use

    LK0028, 2019, Education

  6. Open Data

    LK0029, 2019, E-Government

  7. Agriculture Support Policy

    LK0030, 2019, Capacity Building

  8. Participation for Persons with Disabilities

    LK0031, 2019, Land & Spatial Planning

  9. Disability Rights Bill

    LK0032, 2019, Legislation & Regulation

  10. Disaster Management Planning

    LK0033, 2019, Capacity Building

  11. Nationak Environmental Policy

    LK0034, 2019, Environment and Climate

  12. CEDAW Implementation

    LK0035, 2019, Capacity Building

  13. Local Service Delivery

    LK0036, 2019, E-Government

  14. Feedback on Public Bus

    LK0037, 2019, E-Government

  15. Implementing UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in a Participatory Manner

    LK0038, 2019, Legislation & Regulation

  16. Improving Public Access to Preventive and Curative Strategies to Combat Chronic Kidney Disease

    LK0001, 2016, Health

  17. Transparent Policy to Provide Safe and Affordable Medicines for All

    LK0002, 2016, Capacity Building

  18. National Health Performance

    LK0003, 2016, Capacity Building

  19. Ensuring Transparency and Impartiality in Teacher Recruitment Policy and Process in Sri Lanka

    LK0004, 2016, Capacity Building

  20. Enhance the Services of Government Information Center (GIC- 1919) for Inclusive, Transparent, Accountable and Efficient Governance, Using ICT As Enabler

    LK0005, 2016, Capacity Building

  21. Promote the Open Data Concept and Delivering the Benefits to Citizens Through ICT

    LK0006, 2016, Capacity Building

  22. National Environmental Act (NEA) Amendments

    LK0007, 2016, Capacity Building

  23. Coast Conservation

    LK0008, 2016, Capacity Building

  24. Flora and Fauna Protection

    LK0009, 2016, Capacity Building

  25. Transparent and Accountable Procurement System for Local Authorities in Sri Lanka

    LK0010, 2016, Capacity Building

  26. Local Authority Procurement System Implementation

    LK0011, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  27. Annual Work Plan of the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs to Include a Transparent and Accountable Process to Implement Selected Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Concluding Observations.

    LK0012, 2016, Gender

  28. CEDAW Implementation – Accountability

    LK0013, 2016, Gender

  29. CEDAW – Inclusion

    LK0014, 2016, Gender

  30. Strengthening Women Participation in the Political Decision Making Process at the Local Level

    LK0015, 2016, Capacity Building

  31. Strengthen the Anti-Corruption Framework to Increase Constructive Public Participation

    LK0016, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  32. Implement UNCAC

    LK0017, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  33. Coordination Among Anti-Corruption Agencies

    LK0018, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  34. Corruption and Money Laundering

    LK0019, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  35. Campaign Finance

    LK0020, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  36. Disseminate Asset Declaration

    LK0021, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  37. Starred commitment The Enactment and Implementation of the RTI Act

    LK0022, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  38. Proactive Disclosure

    LK0023, 2016, Legislation & Regulation