Transparency in government is the solution to many ills. It promotes honesty, it supports accountability and it limits the effects of undue influence on policy by special interest groups. The more transparency we have in both the public and private sector, the better off we are.
Governments are enormous data-gathering organisations. Having an “open data” policy means that this data must be made freely available to the public. This can be a daunting task, even for governments with the best of intentions. This is not because they have something to hide, but simply because many governmental agencies and institutions are poorly equipped to make their data accessible. For those who succeed, however, the benefits are significant.
As part of its work on open government data (OGD), the OECD has created OURdata, an index that assesses governments’ efforts to implement OGD in three critical areas: Openness, Usefulness and Re-usability. The results are promising. Those countries that began the process in earnest some five years ago today rank very high on the scale. Those who have started the process but are lagging can draw on the experience of other OECD countries, and benefit from a clear roadmap to guide them.