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GSDRC - Open data, transparency and accountability

Open data, transparency and accountability

Open data involves the release of data so that anyone can access, use and share it. The Open Data Charter (2015) describes six principles that aim to make data easier to find, use and combine:

- open by default
- timely and comprehensive
- accessible and usable
- comparable and interoperable
- for improved governance and citizen engagement
- for inclusive development and innovation


One of the main objectives of making data open is to promote transparency.

Transparency is a characteristic of government, companies, organisations and individuals that are open in the clear disclosure of information, rules, plans, processes and actions. Transparency of information is a crucial part of this.

Within a development context, transparency and accountability initiatives have emerged over the last decade as a way to address developmental failures and democratic deficits.

Data release and transparency are parts of the chain of events leading to accountability. For open data and transparency initiatives to lead to accountability, the required conditions include:
- getting the right data published, which requires an understanding of the politics of data publication
- enabling actors to find, process and use information, and to act on any outputs, which requires an accountability ecosystem that includes equipped and empowered intermediaries
- enabling institutional or social forms of enforceability or citizens’ ability to choose better services, which requires infrastructure that can impose sanctions, or sufficient choice or official support for citizens

Source: GSDRC

Carolan, L. (2016). Open data, transparency and accountability: Topic guide.
Birmingham, UK: GSDRC, University of Birmingham.

Read the full Topic Guide

Open Data Institute - A smart city is an open city

Open data culture creates better cities for everyone

Open data is data that anyone can access, use and share. Whether it is data on local housing from government, real-time train times from rail companies, organising family events, or finding supermarket locations from retailers, open data can help us all better understand, and interact with, our cities.

Keeping infrastructure and markets open is the only scalable way to ensure equitable and secure growth in our cities.

Source: Open Data Institute

Read the full article at Open Data Institute

United Nations E-Governmenty Survey (2014) - World e-government rankings

World e-government rankings

It has been over a decade since the United Nations started assessing the global e-government development through the initiative “Benchmarking E-government: Assessing the United Nations Member States” in 2001. Since then, there has been increasing evidence through public policy formulation and implementation that e-government, among others, has played an effective enabling role in advancing national development.

At the same time, the United Nations E-Government Survey has gained wide acceptance as a global authoritative measure of how public administrations provide electronic and mobile public services.

The biennial edition of the United Nations E-Government Survey aims to exemplify successful e-government strategies, pioneering practices with a view towards administrative reform and sustainable development. The conceptual framework of the E-Government Development Index (EGDI) remains unchanged since its inception in 2001.

Based on a holistic view of e-government development, the methodological framework has remained consistent across Survey periods, while at the same time its components are carefully adjusted to reflect evolving knowledge of best practices in e-government and changes in the underlying supporting ICT infrastructure, human capacity development and online service advancement, among other factors.

The EGDI is a composite measure of three important dimensions of e-government, namely: provision of online services, telecommunication connectivity and human capacity, as illustrated in Figure 1.1.

Each one of these sets of indices is in itself a composite measure that can be extracted and analyzed independently (see section on Survey Methodology). The global e-government ranking, as derived from the EGDI, is not designed to capture e-government development in an absolute sense; rather, it aims to give a performance rating of national governments relative to one another.

Read the full survey


fedscoop - Number of countries embracing open government surges

Number of countries embracing open government surges

A new United Nations survey detailing e-government trends shows the number of nations offering open datasets more than doubled since 2014.

The number of countries providing open access to government data has more than doubled in the past two years, according to figures released in a new report from the United Nations.

The report, the latest in a series of biannual surveys documenting the evolution of electronic government globally, found that 106 out of 193 member countries now make open government data catalogues, or data sets, available to the public, up from 46 countries in 2014.

The 2016 global survey also found overall that 128 countries now provide government spending data in machine-readable formats, making it easier for the public to analyze government spending patterns.

The new figures are part of a broader assessment by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, which looked at the progress governments are making in supporting electronic interaction with their citizens.

Read the full article

Written by: Wyatt Kash


European Commission - Public Services

Public Services

eGovernment uses digital tools and systems to provide better public services to citizens and businesses.

Effective eGovernment can provide a wide variety of benefits including more efficiency and savings for governments and businesses, increased transparency, and greater participation of citizens in political life.

ICTs are already widely used by government bodies, as it happens in enterprises, but eGovernment involves much more than just the tools. It also involves rethinking organisations and processes, and changing behaviour so that public services are delivered more efficiently to people. Implemented well, eGovernment enables citizens, enterprises and organisations to carry out their business with government more easily, more quickly and at lower cost.

The potential cost savings are massive. In Denmark, for example, electronic invoicing saves taxpayers €150 million and businesses €50 million a year. If introduced across the EU, annual savings could exceed €50 billion. In Italy alone, e-procurement systems cut over €3 billion in costs.

Read the full article