opendatastudy

Research on Open Data and Transparency


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New Paper: Brexit and Open Government in the UK: 11 Months of May

Westminster Terrorist Attack Statement

This paper examines how Brexit has influenced the UK’s transparency regime and how, in turn, will openness shape the UK’s Brexit process. There are three ways of looking at Brexit and open government: through possible changes to old policies and the pushing of new ones, through the new Prime Minister championing transparency or supporting secrecy, and the openness of the Brexit process itself, which so far has seen a struggle between the executive’s secretive prerogative powers and the legislature’s rights to know.

May’s government will also be seen as one that prized secrecy but conceded openness, an object (and abject) lesson in how hard it is to keep government closed in the 21st century. The May administration 2016-2017 is likely to be remembered as a secretive one, headed by a Prime Minister that wished to govern through confidentiality and closed networks. Though there were some high profile openness policies they were inherited and proceeded slowly, if at all.

Brexit reveals how badly the approach misfired. The government’s plan of no ‘running commentary’  and secrecy was undermined by the Supreme Court, the UK Parliament and the EU Commission, who all forced greater transparency and greatly limited May’s room for manoeuvre and concealment. The three institutions, creating and using ‘institution friction’ to open up government, also exposed the government’s lack of preparation and undermined the UK’s credibility and leverage even before Brexit began.

Read the paper here https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2988952


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United Kingdom End of Term Report 2013-2015

index

My OGP IRM report is here for public comment on the UK government’s Second National Action Plan. Here’ s a summary:

The UK’s second action plan commitments on beneficial ownership, aid transparency, Sciencewise, and OpenDataCommunities are some examples of major contributions to government openness. Four commitments were closer to completion. However, progress overall in the rest of commitments was sustained from the assessment at mid-term. The third action plan has several commitments that flow from two priority areas and star commitments including beneficial ownership and extractives.”

You have until 18th January to offer any thoughts either via the page or by email to to irm@opengovpartnership.org.

 


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New Transparency International Report: ‘Counting The Pennies’

recall

See the new report here

Key statistics in “Counting the pennies: increasing the transparency in the UK’s public finances” include:

  • £2.312 trillion – Total value of published transactions made by local and central government (2011-2015).
  • £14 million – Redacted transaction data reported in a single month by Hackney London Borough Council that did not identify suppliers – largest in this research.
  • 35% – Proportion of contracts awarded where it is unclear who the supplier is.
  • 81,057 – Different descriptions given to transactions making analysis of data near impossible
  • 75% – Proportion of transactions that contain company registration numbers.


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New Paper: Freedom of Information and the Media

vivre-la-foi-agenda-727x412Abstract:

The media are a powerful constituency of users, lobbyists and defenders of Freedom of Information (FOI) laws. Looking at FOI regimes across the world, it argues that the media are important users but also powerful innovators and defenders. This chapter examines how journalists use the laws in the UK and work to protect and extend it. It also looks at how media use is seen to damage trust in the political system and can generate resistance from government. It ends by arguing that FOI must be viewed in context and now fits within a rapidly changing information eco-system and a shifting and hybrid media environment.

 

Download here


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International Conference “Academic Days on Open Government Issues Journées universitaires sur les enjeux du Gouvernement ouvert”. December 5 & 6, 2016 – Paris, France

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International Conference
“Academic Days on Open Government Issues
Journées universitaires sur les enjeux du Gouvernement ouvert”.
December 5 & 6, 2016 – Paris, France

Under the direction of
Irène Bouhadana William Gilles

Call for Papers

On December 5 & 6, 2016, the University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and IMODEV organize an international conference entitled “Academic Days on Open Government Issues”. This international event, under the direction of Irene Bouhadana and William Gilles, will be the 17th edition in a series ofIMODEV international conferences on the Law and Governance of the Information Society.These academic days will be organized during the week dedicated to the theme since France, as chair of Open Government Partership, will host the Open Government Global Summit in December 2016.

These Academic days aim to bring together all of academia concerned with issues related to open government by favoring a broad and multidisciplinary dimension. One of the goals of the open government process is to promote greater transparency and encourage citizen participation and collaboration in government decision-making, but also to promote government accountability. In this perspective, it is important to emphasize the role of citizens, civil society and stakeholders in decision-making to improve government policies.

see the details CFP long EN v7

Appel à contribution – Call for Papers

Les 5 et 6 décembre 2016, l’Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne et l’IMODEV organiseront une conférence internationale intitulée « Academic Days on Open Government Issues – Journées universitaires sur les enjeux des gouvernements ouverts ». Sous la direction d’Irène Bouhadana et William Gilles, cette manifestation à caractère scientifique sera la 17e édition des conférences internationales de l’IMODEV sur le droit et la gouvernance de la société de l’information.

Ces journées universitaires seront organisées au cours de la semaine pendant laquelle la France accueillera le Sommet mondial 2016 sur les gouvernements ouverts. Cet événement a pour objectif de réunir l’ensemble du monde universitaire concerné par les enjeux relatifs aux gouvernements ouverts en privilégiant une dimension large et pluridisciplinaire.

L’un des objectifs du processus des gouvernements ouverts est de promouvoir une plus grande transparence, d’encourager la participation citoyenne et la collaboration dans la prise de décision gouvernementale, mais aussi de favoriser la responsabilisation du gouvernement. Dans cette perspective, il importe de mettre l’accent sur le rôle des citoyens, de la société civile, et des parties prenantes aux processus de décision pour améliorer les politiques gouvernementales.

 


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Continue, Start, Stop: Reflections on the Third National Action Plan

imagesOn the 12 May the government launched its third open government National Action plan for the OGP. It’s an interesting mixture, so here’s a quick overview of what’s ongoing, what’s new and what’s not there:

Continuing: despite David Cameron’s own difficulties over tax, his push over international tax transparency and anti-corruption continues. Perhaps the most high profile reform from the last national action plan was over Beneficial Ownership, a plan to make UK registered businesses open up data about who (really) owns them through a public register. We shall all be able to see this data very soon.

The new plan extends this principle to foreign companies who are either (i) buying property (ii) bidding for public contacts in the UK-see commitment 1. This is partly about tackling ‘dirty money’ in the UK property market and also about reacting to the Panama Papers.

The devil here is, as ever, in the detail. The consultation paper admits that finding effective sanctions for foreign businesses may be difficult. Opening up tax is truly a global struggle and how the reform fares may also depend on others. David Cameron admitted the US needed to be part of his ‘coalition of the committed’. Closer to home it seems some of the UK’s own tax haven territories and overseas dependencies have been less than enthusiastic about linking up their own registers-the Caymans called it pointless.  It remain to be seen whether super-rich foreign property investors will all flee London when the data appears.

It’s not the only policy to be carried over from the last NAP. Extractives Transparency and anti-corruption initiative are also still a part of the new plan. This series of international issues in the NAP may well be labelled David Cameron’s legacy policies.

Start: there are some new developments not seen in the last plan. Changes to the Freedom of Information Act, rather oddly absent last time round, are now included, with the new plan incorporating some of the recommendations from the Independent Commission on FOI, covering publication of data on FOI use and greater transparency over senior public sector salaries.

A rather nice ‘do they not do that already’? idea is commitment 7 to ‘develop a common data standard for reporting election results’. This could fit with some of the crowd-sourcing projects like Out for the Count that asked techy savvy election watchers to crowd-source the local and devolved election results in May 2016.

Stop: some areas are left untouched from the last plan. This table shows the commitments pushed by civil society and their status-the civil society network points to ‘open budgeting, lobbying transparency and transparency of surveillance’ as outstanding missing commitments. For me the lack of anything on surveillance is disappointing, while the seemingly never-to-be-resolved issue of lobbying and party funding transparency remains stuck. There’s no apparent movement on police records, despite recent controversy over the Hillsborough verdict on South Yorkshire police. However, all is not lost. The plan does offer new commitments that can to be added as it goes along: it is a ‘rolling action plan’ with the capability to ‘add commitments and milestones…over the next two years’.

Other welcome news is that Commitment 13 of the plan commits to ‘ongoing collaboration’ with local government and devolved bodies. The Northern Irish, Welsh and Scottish governments have already been pushing ahead with their own Open Data agendas while local government (and some soon to be local government powerhouses) such as Greater Manchester have been pushing a series of experiments. Perhaps the most positive part of the new plan is not what is happening but who will be involved.