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The Future of Open Government

If the last five years of the open government movement has seen a huge amount of activity – including the creation of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), and the rapid development of the open data agenda – how will we define the next five years? The UK Government hosted a panel on the future of open government at the OGP Summit which attempted to answer that question.

Martin Tisné moderated a panel of experts from across the open government movement, organised by the UK’s Cabinet Office, to try and forecast the next phase for the movement.

Hera Hussain from Open Corporates and Edafe Onerhime from Open Data Cooperative kicked off with flash talks analysing the first releases of the UK’s beneficial ownership data and giving an overview of what’s happening on open contracting around the world.

Hera gave a short introduction on beneficial ownership data released in the UK and talked the audience through a DataDive carried out in November. The DataDive revealed a number of companies owned or controlled by 19 senior politicians, 76 people on the US sanctions list, and 267 disqualified directors. Edafe noted that in Ukraine open contracting data unlocked opportunities to identify corrupt practices in public procurement. Beneficial ownership transparency and open contracting are two cross-cutting areas which can help tackle corruption, improve public service delivery and promote a more positive business environment.

Sir Nigel Shadbolt and Paul Maltby discussed the importance of data infrastructure, which government and businesses can use to build services. A key part of the UK’s approach is by building registers – canonical data you can trust. The first register of countries was released earlier this year and registers for local authorities (England), schools (England) and territories are now in beta.

A member of the audience noted the focus on data infrastructure and technical aspects of open government, rather than the value open government can deliver for ordinary people. In response, Paul pointed to the importance of digital civic tools that enable citizens to have a relationship with government. Edafe noted it is vital that personal information is not misused, and that the tools provided empower everyone, and not just those with technical skills.

We hope that this discussion will contribute to the ongoing transition of the open government movement into its next phase.

We would like to thank the panellists for contributing their insights on the future of open government:

  • Martin Tisné, Omidyar Network, as moderator;
  • Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt, Open Data Institute;
  • Paul Maltby, Government Digital Service;
  • Hera Hussain, OpenCorporates; and
  • Edafe Onerhime, Open Data Cooperative.


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