Civilians, government bureaucrats, and a top-level mandate comprising the Three Tiers, I would even add a fourth tier to the drive at play: corporations, especially because in striving for accountability they are such a strong player in terms of decision-making and fiscal policy.  How can open data in government be fashioned in a way that offers both competition among businesses employing that data as well as accountability toward those businesses and open data government agencies alike?

Michael Norton

From: Jose Manuel Alonso <>
To: eGov IG <>
Sent: Sun, May 23, 2010 2:20:07 PM
Subject: Open Data Study

Just released. I'm sure it's of interest to many of you.


Open Data Study

Date: May 2010
Source: Transparency and Accountability Initiative
Author: Becky Hogge
Substantial social and economic gains can be made from opening government data to the public. The combination of geographic, budget, demographic, services, education, and other data, publicly available in an open format on the web, promises to improve services as well as create future economic growth.

This approach has been recently pioneered by governments in the United States and the United Kingdom (with the launch of two web portals - and respectively) inspired in part by applications developed by grassroots civil society  organizations ranging from bicycle accidents maps to sites breaking down how and where tax money is spent. In the UK, the initiative was spearheaded by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web.

This research, commissioned by a consortium of funders and NGOs (including the Information Program) under the umbrella of the Transparency and Accountability Initiative, seeks to explore the feasibility of applying this approach to open data in relevant middle income and developing countries. Its aim is to identify the strategies used in the US and UK contexts with a view to building a set of criteria to guide the selection of pilot countries, which in turn suggests a template strategy to open government data.

The report finds that in both the US and UK, a three-tiered drive was at play. The three groups of actors who were crucial to the projects' success were:

* Civil society, and in particular a small and motivated group of "civic hackers";

* An engaged and well-resourced "middle layer" of skilled government bureaucrats; and

* A top-level mandate, motivated by either an outside force (in the case of the UK) or a refreshed political administration hungry for change (in the US).

As Tim Berners-Lee observed in interview "It has to start at the top, it has to start in the middle and it has to start at the bottom." The conclusion to this report strengthens that assertion, and warns those attempting to mirror the successes of the UK and US projects not to neglect any of these three layers of influence.

Based on these findings, and on interviews conducted with a selection of domain and region experts to refine these observations for a developing and middle-income country context (where a fourth tier of potential drivers towards open data - in the shape of international aid donors - is identified) the report presents a list of criteria to be considered when selecting a pilot country in order to test this strategy.

Jose M. Alonso
Manager, eGovernment and Open Data, CTIC
co-Chair, eGovernment Interest Group, W3C
Senior Advisor, W3C Spain
Parque Científico-Tecnológico
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