October 3, 2017
We are excited to introduce our newest adopter of the Open Data Charter: Chaco, a province in northeastern Argentina.
Chaco joins Buenos Aires, and the federal government, on the list of Argentine administrations who have formally committed to open data and joined the Charter’s network of governments dedicated to a culture of openness that leads to results.
The government of Chaco is integrating the Charter’s six principles into its open government policy. With this, they are aiming to create a collaborative space with citizens and civil society to improve access to education, protect their natural landscapes and devise collective solutions to other economic, environmental and social challenges facing the province.
The Charter team spoke to the public officials leading the implementation to understand what it means to the province of Chaco to adopt the Charter.
What do you hope to gain from adopting the Charter?
The government of Chaco is convinced of the transformative potential of open data. Adopting the Charter indicates our commitment to make available data that can be used for evidence-based decision making and improve public policy and services.
We have developed an open data delivery framework and the ‘Portal de Transparencia’ through which we will provide transparent and effective access to information. Through these programmes, we guarantee citizens and civil society access to proper information and will work with them to achieve inclusive and sustainable economic growth for the people of Chaco.
How have you approached the guiding principle of becoming open by default?
We conducted research to identify the right way to publish data that complies with the principles of open government. Using the findings, we established the criteria for open data and deployed a guide on the specifications that a particular dataset needs to meet before it is published. We also organised training sessions for members of the Transparency Jurisdiction who are responsible for publishing the datasets.
For example, all our statistical data are currently published in accordance with the Open Data Charter’s principles. We achieved this milestone by working with the Department for Statistics to adopt a data publishing structure and format that allows for easy reuse.
In relation to licences, all data published will be licensed by the Provincial Government and will be available for public use.
Which sector (s) you will prioritise to use data to solve problems after adopting the Charter and why?
We will focus on releasing data on education, on grants and assistance programmes for minorities and civil society organisations, on the environment, and on available micro-credits. For example, we will publish a register on all civil society organisations in the province of Chaco who benefit from public grants, rents or donations so as to promote a culture of transparency and accountability.
Our objective is to make our investments towards social and economic programmes in Chaco efficient and more transparent. We hope the release of such data will increase trust and offer the community a sense of fairness and understanding of who gets what, when and how.
What challenges have you encountered from developing and implementing open data programmes?
As with any new venture, we’ve had several challenges ranging from dissenting views on the importance of opening up government data in the first place, and getting the various departments to agree on an Open Data Action Plan.
As a result, it took a lot of persuasion to get a buy-in from the authorities concerned on publishing data following the principles of the Open Data Charter. Another issue was technical expertise which always became the elephant in the room during discussions on developing and sustaining a portal where all the data released will be housed.
Also, engaging CSOs in the adoption process took a lot of negotiation on specifics and priorities but having them on board has been very helpful. They served as partners and ensured the Open Data Action Plan developed is reflective of the needs of the people of Chaco. They again committed to the establishment of a realistic impact and verification criteria to monitor the plan’s implementation progress.
Based on your experience, do you have any advice for government officials implementing open data initiatives?
In order for any open data plan to succeed, it is essential to have the commitment of authorities at the highest level, as well as from leaders from CSOs. For example, we had series of meetings with CSOs around the Charter adoption and together developed joint goals and a list of priority datasets to be released. After this, the CSOs agreed to form part of our monitoring mechanism.
We look forward to working with the province of Chaco as they implement the Charter.