To enable voters to make an informed choice, the government and parliament must make data available for anyone to hold government to account. This is essential for the functioning of democracy and to make democracy future proof, writes Open State Foundation today in an open letter to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and party leaders in the Dutch parliament.
This includes open data on elections, decision-making and government financial data. The Dutch digital transparency organisation also calls for a government register with unique identifiers for all Dutch public and semipublic government organisations and the establishment of a single datalist with all data that are exchanged between local and governments with other government authorities to make this data available in a structured and standardised manner.
Single decentralised datalist
Earlier research done by Open State Foundation showed that only one in ten Dutch government agencies report open datasets to the central open data portal of the Dutch government. Especially local and regional authorities still face difficulties to make open data available. Since most local and regional governments must provide and exchange data with each other, Open State Foundation calls on the central government to establish in cooperation with the Association of Provinces (IPO) and Association of Municipalities (VNG) a so-called ‘single decentralised datalist’ with all data that municipalities and provincies share with other governments and to make these data available in an open structured and standardised format.
‘In the United Kingdom there has been some experiences with a so-called single data list, a list of information that local governments share with the national government’, says Arjan El Fassed, director of Open State Foundation. ‘This has a positive effect on active disclosure and reuse of government information’.
Basic registry of governments
Open State Foundation also found that most open data that is available concerns people but only few datasets deal with government performance itself. Also lacking is an authorised and complete overview of all government organisations. ‘Governments and government agencies should get a unique identifier, just like citizens’, states El Fassed. ‘To be able to follow public funds and performance of governments, it is important to know what government actually is’.
Putting the draft transparency law to test
Finally, Open State Foundation proposed to put the draft law on Open Government in practice. Decision-making on the new draft transparency law has been delayed because the government prefers to have civil servants perform an impact analysis. ‘Such an impact analysis can be better performed by putting the draft law in practice by a voluntary test implementation by a municipality, regional authority or other government agency’, says El Fassed. ‘In this way, we will find out what the implementation of this law actually will cost, what means are needed and to what results it will lead’.