A step further on the re-use of public administration documents (SE0009)
Action Plan: Sweden, Second Action Plan, 2014-16
Action Plan Cycle: 2014
Lead Institution: Swedish Ministry of Health and Social Affairs
Support Institution(s): National Archives, the Swedish National Financial Management Authority, the Swedish Competition Authority, Swedish Government Agency for Innovations Systems; The Swedish Agency for Public Management
Policy AreasCapacity Building, Legislation & Regulation
The commitment on a step further on the re-use of public administration documents aims to enhance economic growth, greater openness and better service for citizens. Various estimates point to considerable value for society when the re-use of public administration documents is increased. When information from the public sector is being re-used, compiled, processed and made available, the ability of citizens to gain insight and make demands on government activities increases. A more open government can increase its legitimacy among citizens and their willingness to participate in the development of the service level, efficiency and quality of public services. The commitment will mainly be achieved through changes in Swedish legislation, proposed by a Government Inquiry and actions to promote and monitor the re-use of public administration documents.
- Prepare for changes in the Act on the re-use of public administration documents (2010:566) in order to implement the Directive 2013/37/EU (Public Sector Information Directive).7
- Support initiatives related to the project ‘Application profile for data portals in
Europe’ (DCAT-AP), where Sweden participates.8
- Continue to facilitate actions in order to promote agencies’ re-use of public administration documents at different levels.
- Improve comprehensive follow-up and monitoring, including continuing to systematically give missions to agencies to report on their work on re-using public administration documents.
IRM End of Term Status Summary
Commitment 2. A Step Further on the Reuse of Public Administration Documents
The commitment on a step further on the re-use of public administration documents aims to enhance economic growth, greater openness and better service for citizens. Various estimates point to considerable value for society when the re-use of public administration documents is increased. When information from the public sector is being re-used, compiled, processed and made available, the ability of citizens to gain insight and make demands on government activities increases. A more open government can increase its legitimacy among citizens and their willingness to participate in the development of the service level, efficiency and quality of public services. The commitment will mainly be achieved through changes in Swedish legislation, actions to promote and monitor the re-use of public administration documents, and an evaluation of the re-use of public data.
-Prepare for changes in the Act on the re-use of public administration documents (2010:566) in order to implement the Directive 2013/37/EU (Public Sector Information Directive).
-Support initiatives related to the project ‘Application profile for data portals in Europe’ (DCAT-AP), where Sweden participates.
-Continue to facilitate actions in order to promote agencies’ re-use of public administration documents at different levels.
- Improve comprehensive follow-up and monitoring, including continuing to systematically give missions to agencies to report on their work on re-using public administration documents
2.1. Full implementation of the Public Sector Information Directive (PSI)
2.2. Systematic reports of agencies work on reusing public information
2.3. Participation in the European Commission’s work on DCAT-AP
2.4. Continued actions to facilitate agencies’ work on re-using public administration documents
2.5. An evaluation of the re-use of public administration documents by the Swedish Agency for Public Management
Responsible institution: Ministry of Finance
Supporting institution(s): The National Archives; The Swedish National Financial Management Authority; Swedish Competition Authority; Swedish Government Agency for Innovations Systems; The Swedish Agency for Public Management
Start date: 2011.................... End date: 2018
This commitment aims to enable different types of stakeholders to reuse public information by amending Swedish legislation in the area. One of the main issues with the Swedish Act on the Reuse of Public Administration Documents (2010:566) was the excessive fees charged for data.[Note 22: E. Eklund and O. Jansson, A new PSI Directive for more and cheaper re-use of information (Delphi, September 2013), http://www.delphi.se/.%5D To this end, amendments were implemented to achieve lower and clearer pricing of accessing government-held information and to include cultural institutions under the law. The Swedish government considers the reuse of public information as an important factor for innovation, business growth, and new job opportunities.[Note 23: The statement about expected impact is based on what is written in Sweden’s “Mid-term Self-Assessment Report: Open Government Partnership, National Action Plan 2013–2015.”]
At the midterm, the majority of the milestones under this commitment were not started. The commitment is largely focused on continuous monitoring of agencies’ adherence to new requirements for the reuse of public information. Yet, the relevant change, the transposition of the EU’s Public Sector Information (PSI) Directive on the reuse of information, only entered into force on 1 July 2015. Therefore, as noted in the government’s midterm self-assessment, “There has not yet been any measure of results. The Agency for Public Management has the government's mandate (S2014/3536/SFÖ) to monitor the effects of how the national and local authorities are working to make information available. The result will be presented in January 2018.”[Note 24: Ibid.]
At the end of the first year of implementation, the most important achievement under this commitment was the transposition of the PSI Directive into Swedish law (milestone 2.1). However, even though the PSI Directive has been transposed to national law, its practical implementation (i.e., making as much information as possible available to enable use by different types of stakeholders) was not yet completed.
The relevant changes to the Swedish law, which entered into force on 1 July 2015, include (i) covering university libraries and cultural institutions, such as archives, libraries, and museums (previously not covered by the law);[Note 25: Since 2013 content held by museums, libraries, and archives falls within the scope of application of the PSI Directive as well. https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/european-legislation-reuse-public-sector-information. ] (ii) obliging authorities to state on their websites what information can be reused and to keep the fees to reproduce, provide, and disseminate public documents within their marginal costs; and (iii) the criteria for the fee calculation have to be published in advance, instead of revealed only on request. Moreover, individuals can now ask for a written justification from authorities if their requests on the reuse of data are refused or come with conditions.[Note 26: “Reuse of information from the public administration,” Report 2014/15: FiU14. (“Vidareutnyttjande av information från den offentliga förvaltningen,” Betänkande 2014/15:FiU14), http://www.riksdagen.se/sv/Dokument-Lagar/Utskottens-dokument/Betankanden/Arenden/201415/FiU14/. ] For more information, please see the 2013–2014 midterm IRM report.
End of term: Limited
Based on the government self-assessment report and media monitoring conducted by the IRM researcher, limited progress has been made on this commitment. The evaluation of the reuse of public administration documents by the Swedish Agency for Public Management planned in milestone 2.5 has produced its first report in September 2015. This report described the current situation with the reuse of PSI (as assessed during summer 2015) and how the authorities perceive and work with this issue. The report was based on a survey of 310 state and municipal authorities that showed that about half of them believe that they have substantial or specific information that may be of interest for reuse. At the same time, the survey revealed that the authorities have not come very far in making this information available. Only a few authorities have developed concrete plans to facilitate the reuse of information, and about 20 percent of the authorities are not aware of the actual significance of the current law on the reuse of PSI.[Note 27: Agency for Public Management, “Authorities work with the reuse of information. The current picture,” September 2015. (“Myndigheternas arbete med vidareutnyttjande av information. En nulägesbild.” Dnr 2014/80-5). The final report is due on 19 January 2018.] The report concludes that many public authorities are not making enough progress to reach the final aim of the PSI Directive, which is to make as much information available for reuse as possible.[Note 28: The EU’s PSI Directive states that all content that can be accessed under national access to documents laws should in principle be reusable. https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/european-legislation-reuse-public-sector-information.%5D
Milestone 2.2, “reporting on agencies’ reuse of public information,” and Milestone 2.4, “facilitating agencies’ work on the reuse of documents,” were vaguely formulated, and the IRM researcher could not find any publicly available evidence of further attempts by the government to make progress on these two milestones. The IRM researcher sent a draft of the commitment analysis to the government contact point for this commitment—Karina Aldén, deputy director at the Ministry of Finance—for comments on 8 September 2016 and got a reply saying that she did not have any views on the draft on 25 October 2016. Therefore, completion of this commitment is assessed as limited.
Did it open government?
Access to information: Did not change
This commitment is aimed at promoting the reuse of public-sector information. To date, there is no indication of increased government openness resulting from the achievements under this commitment. The IRM researcher consulted an expert on open data and its reuse who confirmed these findings.[Note 29: The open data expert referenced requested anonymity but confirmed the IRM researcher’s findings for commitments 1 and 2 and had no additional comments on the draft report. ]
The purpose of facilitating the reuse of public-sector information (PSI) converges with the open data agenda, which implies that the public sector should publish data in an open, machine-readable format without restriction for commercial reuse. However, opening up PSI has proved to be complex. A government inquiry on PSI in Sweden, [Note 30: Ministry of Finance, “One step further—the new rules and measures to promote the re-use of documents,” ID: SOU 2014: 10 February 2014. (“Ett steg vidare – nya regler och åtgärder för att främja vidareutnyttjande av handlingar,” ID-nummer: SOU 2014:10. Finansdepartementet). http://www.regeringen.se/rattsdokument/statens-offentliga-utredningar/2014/02/sou-201410/ ] as well as academic studies,[Note 31: Johannes Semere, Bachelor thesis. ] judge that the law is not a sufficient incentive for authorities to implement the EU’s PSI Directive and to take full advantage of the benefits of extensive reuse of information. Above all, the public authorities need to develop significant technical skills and get adequate financial and organisational resources in order to manage, organise, and present the data.[Note 32: Ibid.] Moreover, many authorities, especially on the local level, are not aware of the legal requirements on PSI and do not realise the importance of adopting a more proactive approach in making the data more accessible, as opposed to passively waiting for requests of information to come in.[Note 33: “The authorities are careless about open data—they are not aware of the law,” Computer Sweden, 5 October 2015. (“Myndigheterna slarvar med öppna data - har inte koll på lagen,” Computer Sweden, 5 oktober 2015). http://computersweden.idg.se/2.2683/1.638761/myndigheter-oppna-data. ]
Sweden has not yet released its next action plan; hence, it is too early to say whether the commitment has been carried forward.
In order to speed up the reuse of PSI, the IRM researcher recommends that future commitments in the area aim at:[Note 34: These recommendations are mainly based on interviews carried out in the framework of the 2014–2015 midterm IRM report and on the report of the Agency for Public Management: “Authorities work with the reuse of information. The current picture” (September 2015).]
• Complementing the PSI law with a roadmap setting out what data should be opened up and by when;
• Developing a model for funding joint solutions across government authorities in order to diminish the costs of data;
• Developing a ranking system, which would allow stakeholders to assess authorities’ progress and identify the leading public authorities in the field of open data to feature as best practice cases; and
• Informing and training public authorities, especially on the local level. A starting point would be to make sure that all authorities are aware of the guidelines on reuse of PSI[Note 35: E-Delegation, “Reuse of public information, a guide for authorities,” undated. (“Vidareutnyttjande av offentlig information En vägledning för myndigheter”. E-delegationen) http://skl.se/download/18.430f8b0b145ac911ed643836/1399451140249/Juridisk-v%C3%A4gledning-e-delegationen.pdf. ] developed by the Swedish e-Delegation and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKL). These guidelines contain basic information on the legal framework and on how authorities should work on the reuse of information.
For this commitment to be “complete,” the government should also clarify the meaning of milestone 2.2, “reporting on agencies’ reuse of public information,” and milestone 2.4, “facilitating agencies’ work on reuse of documents.” These milestones were vaguely formulated, making it impossible to assess their level of accomplishment
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