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German government presents national action plan for open data

Author: Adrian Offerman

Recently, the German Ministry of the Interior presented 'The Federal Government's National Action Plan to implement the G8 Open Data Charter'. This charter was adopted at the G8 summit in Ireland in June 2013 and stipulates the following principles:

  1. government data is published openly by default, while ensuring that privacy is safeguarded;
  2. the release of quality, timely and well-described open data;
  3. the release of as much data in as many formats as possible to make it maximally re-usable;
  4. the sharing of expertise and transparency about data collection, standards and publishing processes, thereby improving governance;
  5. consultattions with users and the release of data to facilitate and stimulate innovation.

With this action plan the German federal government has committed to:

  1. facilitating the publication of as much government data as possible by developing legislation and other instruments;
  2. publishing as much of the existing government datasets as possible;
  3. GovData will be the central open data portal for federal, state and local government;
  4. conducting regular dialogue with civil society, business, the media and the research community.

Implementation

The German action plan builds on results already achieved in previous initiatives:

The action plan also adheres to the open data paragraph in the current coalition agreement, stating that the federal government should provide an open data portal for all levels of government and must take the lead — legislatively — in providing open data.

Co-operation in the area of open government will be increased among all levels of the German government, i.e. more data will be published and existing open data strategies and data catalogues will be consolidated. At the national level, exchanges with civil-society organizations will be pursued, while at the international level, the German government will continue to participate in ongoing research projects to create a European open data infrastructure. At the same time, getting public agencies to publish their data may be particularly difficult in Germany, with its many government offices at federal, state and local level.

Ongoing process

One of the most important commitments is that every federal agency has to publish at least two datasets as open data in the first quarter of 2015, says Jan-Ole Beyer, Desk Officer for Open Government and Open Data at the Federal Ministry of the Interior. The main purpose of this commitment is that it binds every agency to start thinking about open data. We already noticed that this approach seems to work for a lot of agencies.

Furthermore, we are preparing the study on the importance of the sale of data. We plan to accept a tender at the end of March. The first goal of the study is the development of a holistic methodology to calculate (or at least estimate) the importance of sold data for the budget of an agency. More specifically, it should include a view on the expenses which are caused by the sale process (i.e. accounting, dunning). As a second goal, the methodology should be implemented for some sample agencies.

Regarding the commitment on consultation, engagement and experience-sharing, we are in discussion with civil society and commerce/industry representatives on how to include them in the change process towards open data and how to include the data demand in our publication processes.

The ambition is to have the G8 Open Data Charter implemented by the end of 2015. Of course, the process will continue and grow beyond this year, and the action plan will be amended to reflect future commitments.