Not with a Bang but a Whimper The…

Not with a Bang but a Whimper: The Politics of Accountability and Open Data in the UK :

“Can the pro-active release of raw datasets by the government lead to more participatory democracy and government accountability? This paper explores the limits of what is possible through open government data by examining the UK government’s recent release of historic data in its COINS database of public expenditure. The paper begins by examining the origins of the UK’s open government data policy. It shows that far, from constituting a radical departure from pre-existing practice, the use of open data as a tool of democratic consolidation is in fact the outcome of several long-term trends in British politics and administration. It then shows that these origins encouraged a limited view of the likely impact of open government data on the actual exercise of democratic accountability, one which emphasises the removal of institutional barriers to access and tends to be overly-optimistic about how widely these data are likely to be used by individual citizens. Although pro-active disclosure may make it easier for “the public” to obtain information, there are still numerous barriers to actually using it, including the technical challenge of processing the raw data itself, the expertise to understand it and the existence of opportunities to act effectively on it. Overall, the paper argues that far from encouraging direct participation, the resource requirements for using government datasets actually reinforce the importance of intermediary organisations capable of processing and interpreting them, and that a rights-based framework may not be a particularly informative way of understanding the effects of open government data on democratic practice. It also suggests that the experience of the COINS disclosure has thus far confirmed a number of key claims made by technological sceptics, including that information technology is likely to reinforce existing power relations rather than disrupting them.”


Report on Open Government Data in India …

Report on Open Government Data in India :

“This report looks at some of the landscape relevant to open government data (OGD) in India, starting from the current environment in government, the state of civil society, the media, the policies that affect it from the Right to Information Act, the standards­related policies, e­governance policies, and the copyright policy. This report also looks at a few case studies from government, civil society organizations, a public­private partner­ ship and profiles some civic hackers. It then examines some of the varied challenges to the uptake of OGD in India, from infrastructural problems of e­governance to issues such as privacy and power imbalances being worsened by transparency. Finally, it lays out our observations and some recommendations. It concludes by noting that OGD in India must be looked at differently from what it has so far been understood as in countries like the UK and the US, and providing some constructive thoughts on how we should think about OGD in In­dia.”


Open Data Study. Commissioned by the Tra…

Open Data Study. Commissioned by the Transparency and Accountability Initiative :
There are substantial social and economic gains to 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 State and the United Kingdom
(with the launch of two web portals – and respectively) inspired in part
by applications developed by grassroots civil society organisations 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 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.