On the occasion of International Open Data Day (6 March), Global Data Barometer project team members are joining a number of regional discussions focusing on the role of open data assessments and ratings, and the ways in which such ratings could potentially impact the responsiveness, transparency and effectiveness of public administrations.
The first global flagship report by the Global Data Barometer will be published later this year, and we hope that through its thematic modules, it will support discussion of each country’s strengths in particular areas and sectors, and at the same time, identify areas where action is needed most. We’ll also look globally into which sectors have laid the foundations for responsible, data-enabled development, and which are lagging behind?
One of the most important questions for such an initiative is how much Governments are able to build on global indexes and findings of global studies? In short, how can the ‘data about data’ we gather through the Barometer trigger more action, specifically around the accountability and effectiveness of public administration. On Open Data Day, we’ll be discussing three ways we’ve been thinking about this challenge.
- In 2021, delivering responsiveness in public administration is almost always dependent on accurate and timely data. Public administration authorities must have the ability to react fast and solve emerging problems, correct mistakes and prevent repeating them by identifying weaknesses. The current COVID-19 pandemic shows how vulnerable public administrations can be when lacking data. At the same time, responsive public administrations must be accountable for the efficient and effective use of their physical, human and financial resources, in a way that it maximizes the results. This calls for modern data infrastructures: where data is governed in ways that support safe sharing across government, and where data collection and management is on a solid footing. We’re exploring how our indicators can highlight good practices in laying the foundations for accurate, timely data.
- Transparency plays a critical role in making sure governments are accountable to their populations, that administrative corruption risks are kept in check, and that power is more widely distributed. Delivering effective transparency with open data involves providing relevant datasets in relevant ways. If data is not timely, or publication practices contain embedded loopholes that allow corrupt practices to remain hidden, the potential of data-driven transparency may be lost. Furthermore, effective transparency also requires capacity across society to make use of the data that is available. Our planned indicators will seek to support learning about the features that make particular data sets useful, and the approaches to capacity building that support transparency in practice.
- Lastly, the effectiveness of the public sector relates to the capacity of public administration institutions to deliver services that meet established targets, and population needs. This can involve making data available to public sector partners, but it also involves data use inside the public administration itself. This takes internal capacity, and leadership. We’re exploring indicators that can highlight the kinds of interventions that support responsible and effective data use in the state, and that celebrate data use that is delivering against development goals.
Overall, we see the need both to show ‘bright spots’ in government practice (getting away from an index that is just about a one-dimensional ordering of states), and the need to show the connections between data governance, capability, availability and use. We’re designing the Barometer to be able to speak both directly to governments, but also to be useful to national and thematic civil society organizations in advocating for improvements in practice.
Data is key for accountability, while accountability is key for building trust between governments and their citizens. If we get our model right, through the Global Data Barometer we hope to be supporting the efforts on those ‘Bridges of Trust’ across the globe in the next decade, and build our work on solid collaborations and partnerships to support research, practice, and national actions on data for the public good.