Featured Commitment – Moldova
Commitment: Raising awareness of “open data by default” among civil servants
National Action Plan: 2014-2015
How is a humble OGP commitment affecting the 2016 presidential race in Moldova?
Since it joined in 2012, Moldova has used its OGP action plans to address the Soviet legacy of government corruption. As part of its plan to rebuild trust and make officials more accountable, the Moldovan government is making government data more open. The Moldovan government, in partnership with civil society organizations is undertaking a suite of activities to improve governance using open data. The first action plan (2013) trained civil society professionals to use the data. In an interesting twist, for the second action plan (2014), Moldova now had civil society organizations train public servants. Specifically, they committed to train 50 public servants on the principle of “open data by default” and develop a plan to make publication a day-to-day practice. “Open data by default’ means that, when agencies develop new data (or release old data), it should be in a format which is public and reusable.
So how did Moldova do on the commitment? The organizations exceeded the target of training 50 public servants. They hosted workshops, seminars, and trainings for over 140 public servants on issues of open data and governance. The IRM report gave a mixed assessment, however. It noted that the commitment led to increased cooperation between civil society and government overall. On the other hand, the IRM found the commitment incomplete as the promised plan for mainstreaming open data was missing at the time of assessment.
What are the results? Between 2014 and 2015, following its first two action plans, Moldova moved up in the Open Knowledge Foundation’s Global Open Data Index, from 43rd to 22nd. Practically speaking, this has meant that elections data and the national company registry are now available for public use. This type of high-value data can contribute to the original goal of reducing corruption in elections and reducing money laundering and bribe-paying.
In fact, Moldova’s activities on open data have even worked their way into the 2016 national election. Data journalists used the open data company register to identify shell companies used by politicians and political parties as well as hidden accounts linked to organized crime and an ongoing banking scandal. With the election scheduled for 30 October, we will soon see how seemingly mundane administrative reforms might change the course of an election.