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government peer reviewed the draft paper, "The Journey of Open Government and Open Data Moldova", in May 2012 in conjunction with Moldova’s Open Innovation Week. Chaired by Andrew Stott, former Deputy Chief Information Officer of the United Kingdom, the panel was conducted in the presence of senior staff of the Moldova e-Government Center (eGC) including Stela Mocan, eGC Executive Director. This paper is open to the public for review and comments until July 31, 2012 via www.scribd.com, after which comments will be integrated and a final version released. Please send reviews/comments to the principal authors: Hanif Rahemtulla, Governance and Geospatial Specialist at the World Bank (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Irina Tisacova, Open Government Coordinator, e-Government Center, Government of Moldova (email@example.com).
Abstract Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) are considered enablers in Moldova’s efforts to modernize public services, improve competitiveness toward sustainable economic growth, build human capital and promote social inclusion. ICTs also underpin a larger vision of Moldova’s desired integration with the European Union (EU). Moldova’s Governance e-Transformation (GeT) project was formulated to build upon, facilitate and further the Moldovan government’s achievements in modernizing public sector governance. The GeT is a case study of government leadership and World Bank-facilitated knowledge networks, which have proven to be instrumental to Moldova’s ability to translate nascent interest in ICTs for modernization into an expanded vision of Open Government and Open Data. In April 2011, Moldova became one of the first countries in the region, and among the first 16 countries in the world, to launch an Open Data portal. The government has subsequently released 324 datasets, including public expenditure information for the past five years under the World Bank’s BOOST initiative, and has published online income declarations for civil servants and public officials. This has been complemented by the cultivation of an “enabling environment” for Open Data and Open Government such as the prioritized electronic access to datasets and services of significant public interest, as well as delivery of the four most demanded public e-services, all planned for the end of 2012. More recently, the Government of Moldova reaffirmed its commitment promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and harness new technologies to strengthen governance by approving a National Action Plan on Open Government, which granted Moldova membership to the multilateral Open Government Partnership (OGP) initiative launched in September 20, 2011. Adopting a mixed-mode research design, the study draws upon surveys, observational data and interviews conducted with key actors to document the underlying drivers, principal objectives and the evolution of Moldova Open Government and Open Data initiatives. A comparative study of Moldova's Open Data in relation to other global Open Data initiatives is included, focusing on the conceptual models of Open Data in developing and developed countries. This paper also provides a unique insight into Moldova’s Open Data platform’s access and usage patterns since its launch in April 2011, as well as an evaluation of the ongoing cultivation of an “enabling environment” to support Moldova Open Government and Open Data. Finally, the paper proposes a roadmap for moving forward, describing principal barriers and supportive factors that must be addressed for such initiatives to be sustained and institutionalized in the long-term.
1. Moldova: eTransformation, Open Government & Open Data
A small, land-locked country situated between Ukraine and Romania, the Republic of Moldova is also one of the most densely populated states in Eastern Europe with a population of 3.6 million in an area of only 33,843 square kilometers. This is in addition to the estimated 750,000 to 1 million Moldovans who reside and work outside the country (World Bank, 2012). Recovering from economic contraction during the 2008-9 global financial crises, Moldova’s economy is currently experiencing renewed growth, achieving a 6.4% positive growth rate in 2011 and approaching lower-middle income status (World Bank, 2012). Despite this marked improvement, Moldova remains among the poorest European countries with a GDP per capita of $1,810 (2010), and is vulnerable to external shocks due to its reliance upon energy imports. Traditionally an agrarian based economy with 27.5% of the workforce employed in the agriculture sector, remittances are an increasingly important revenue source in Moldova’s consumption-led growth, which accounts for almost 30% of GDP. Moldova’s leadership emphasizes the need to transition from consumption-and-remittance driven growth model to a more diversified economy based on increased private savings and investment. However, Moldova’s progress in navigating this transition has been undercut by a vast public sector bureaucracy with significant discretionary powers inherited from the Soviet era. According to the World Bank (2011, p.03), political instability, a tenuous economic environment and vulnerability to external shocks negatively impact Moldova’s quality of governance and increase corruption opportunities. Moldova’s desire to join the EU was formalized by the EU-Moldova Cooperation Council in 2005 which adopted the Action Plan entitled ‘Declaration on the Political Partnership to Achieve the Objective of European Integration of the Republic of Moldova’ to promote socio-economic and political reforms. The Action Plan addressed implementing mechanisms to strengthen judicial and administrative capacity, ensure freedom of expression, and combat illegal activities such as illicit trafficking, money laundering, and organized crime. The EU Action Plan complemented the EU Reform Program, which contained explicit conditions for Moldova’s entry into the EU, centering on areas including increased socialization, economic development, promotion of democracy and human rights. Within this context, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) were considered an enabler with the potential to transform Moldova’s economy and governance, through: strengthening competitiveness toward sustainable economic growth, building human capital, promoting social inclusion and improving public sector governance. The role of ICT was also directly pertinent to Moldova’s vision of integration with the European Union (EU) and, as such, is included in the EU’s long-term strategy for engagement. 3
While there was growing interest in ICTs to modernize the country’s economy, public service delivery in Moldova still primarily relied on in-person transactions as late as 2010. Bureaucratic procedures, rampant delays and perceived inefficiencies contributed to low levels of citizen satisfaction and hampered the government’s attempts to improve its performance. With connectivity rapidly improving, evidenced by a high mobile penetration rate of 82 percent, the possibility of improving the quality of service delivery through transitioning to electronic mediums was attractive to the Moldovan government. Several challenges however would have to be overcome if Moldova was to realize this transformation to an e-government paradigm and move a step closer to EU integration. Of those challenges, Moldova’s economy was constrained by uneven development and stratified Internet access, as only 38% of the population used the Internet and rural residents were comparatively underserved. A second challenge was a scarcity of qualified IT specialists in Moldova relative to demand, with the government hindered in competing for top talent with private companies or state-owned enterprises not bound by the public sector remuneration scheme. The absence of a coherent strategy and common infrastructure for e-government constituted a third challenge for the Moldovan government, as data silos between and within ministries were exacerbating the need for additional funds and personnel to maintain disparate systems. Catalyzed by high-level commitment from the Prime Minister’s Office, the government released a strategic program entitled ‘European Integration: Freedom, Democracy, and Welfare 2011-2014’ outlining several initiatives to address Moldova’s ICT challenges and create traction for e-governance as a priority. The program closely aligned with the EU Digital Agenda, which was one of seven flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 strategy. The Agenda focused on the use of ICT as an enabler with the potential to maximize business development, communication, freedom of expression, innovation and economic growth. To this end, the Moldovan government approached the World Bank for technical and financial assistance and sought to: institute a shared platform to reduce data silos, increase administrative efficiency through ICTs, shift to e-service delivery and adopt an e-governance regulatory framework. Familiar with the benefits of e-governance to public sector effectiveness and private sector competitiveness, the World Bank agreed to support the Moldova Governance eTransformation project as a complement to the important contributions of international actors such as the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and USAID that were already piloting e-services, training civil servants and supporting legal reforms. The Governance e-Transformation project was formulated to build upon this foundation and facilitate further achievement of the Moldovan government’s goals of modernizing public sector governance, improving global competitiveness, enhancing social inclusion and supporting future integration with the EU. In mobilizing technical and financial resources to support Moldova’s digital transformation agenda, the World Bank sought to draw upon lessons learned from twelve World Bank-financed e-governance projects worldwide experienced in opening up government information, providing public services electronically and maximizing process efficiency. The World Bank also leveraged knowledge networks of leading e-government practitioners from the North and South, as well as existing strong relationships with the Moldovan government cultivated through collaborating on prior projects in public administration reform, public financial management and private sector competitiveness. A concept note on Open Government and Open Data by the World Bank e-Transformation Team, combined with knowledge networks were integral to Moldova’s ability to translate nascent interest in ICTs for modernization into an expanded vision of Open Government and Open Data. The subsequent section provides an account of the role of knowledge networks and their impact on Moldova’s Open Data and Open Government agendas in greater depth.
2. Leveraging Knowledge Networks to Further e-Transformation in Moldova and Beyond
Participation in knowledge networks not only strengthened Moldova’s capabilities in its initial areas of focus on ICT for modernization and e-governance, but also encouraged the enlargement of its vision with regard to Open Data and Open Government. High-level champions, Prime Minister Vlad Filat and Secretary General Victor Bodiu, provided political commitment fueling Moldova’s efforts to cultivate “peer-to-peer learning networks” of ICT practitioners and leaders since 2009. Initially harnessing expertise from its own private and civil society sectors with an ICT community of practice, Moldova has since grown this network in partnership with the World Bank, pursuing knowledge exchanges with countries such as US, Singapore, Canada, Estonia, Austria and India. Moldovan leaders have utilized this iterative learning process to strengthen political will, administrative capacity and broad based public support, all of which are critical to successful government reforms. 2.1. The Origins of the e-Transform Initiative and Emerging Knowledge Networks Moldova was the first country to join the e-Transform initiative in 2010, which endeavors to “maximize impact and lower risks of ICT-enabled transformation” through fostering exchange of lessons learned among participating governments (Miller, 2010). Under its auspices, the World Bank has assumed a “connector” role, facilitating demanddriven access to “networks of industry innovators and country leaders” as developing countries seek to benefit from global expertise (World Bank Institute, 2011). The e-Transform initiative and the related South-South Knowledge Exchange Facility are distinctive in promoting “horizontal solutions” across regions and countries facing similar constraints. In that spirit, Moldova has since effectively forged “triangular cooperation” to inform and further its ICT agenda, benefiting from North-South connections with developed countries and international organizations, as well as South-South networks with developing countries (Gwin, 2011). Moldova’s knowledge networks have evolved over time in terms of their composition, scope and contribution. Launched in 2009, the Moldova Transformation Network, a country-specific ICT community of practice (CoP) inspired by the World Bank’s global e-Development Thematic Group, was the first iteration of Moldova’s knowledge networks. Composed of public, private and civil society representatives, the CoP provided a platform for Moldovans to: inform the country’s ICT agenda, reflect on domestic ICT challenges and opportunities, promote efficient and innovative use of ICTs and identify future learning needs. 2.2. Collaborative Projects with Countries of the North and South The Moldovan Ministry of Informational Technologies and Communications also began engaging counterparts in Singapore’s Infocomm Development Authority and International Enterprise in 2009, seeking to learn from their 30 years of e-government innovation. Moldova’s participation in a World Bank-sponsored Singapore ICT Day workshop sparked interest in formalizing a twinning arrangement and ultimately the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two countries on knowledge exchange for e-government. Subsequently, the Moldovan government hosted Singaporean e-government experts, sent its officials on study tours to Singapore and convened in-person and virtual consultations to solicit advice on the design of Moldova’s e-Government portal, e-Government Center and eGovernment roadmap. Established in August 2010, the e-Government Center is under the Prime Minister’s Cabinet and managed by the State Chancellery. Responding to Moldova’s increasing interest in international best practices, the World Bank assisted Moldovan officials in instituting an advisory panel of High-Level Experts for Leaders and Practitioners (HELP) in 2010. The forum, constituting chief information officers and e-government champions from leading countries around the world, substantially enhanced Moldova’s exposure to effective ICT strategies and approaches through a series of virtual consultations. Moldova was also able to expand its South-South cooperation through the HELP process, which gave 5
rise to new bilateral relationships with Estonia and India as developing country leaders in e-governance (World Bank Institute, 2012). Facilitated by the South-South Knowledge Exchange, Moldova initiated a knowledge dialogue with India in 2011, connecting with government counterparts in the Department of Information Technology, National e-Governance, as well as representatives from the Indian IT industry. Through hosting Indian delegations, sending Moldovan officials on study visits to India and hosting virtual consultations, Moldova was able to learn from India’s experience in deploying its National e-Governance Plan and designing mobile governance for public service delivery. Concurrently, Moldova also signed a memorandum of understanding with Estonia’s e-Governance Academy, which would prove to be highly influential in the development of Moldova’s own e-Government Center (World Bank Institute, 2012). World Bank President Zoellick highlighted the World Bank’s Open Data initiative in a High Level Roundtable eliciting interest from Moldovan senior government leaders as early as August 2010. Interactions with experts from the US and Philippines on the CheckMySchool initiative, visits by acclaimed Open Data advocates Jeff Kaplan and Hans Rosling and an Open Government TechCamp in summer 2011 were also influential in Moldova’s evolving eGovernment agenda (see Figure 2.2).
Figure 2.2: World Bank President Zoellick and acclaimed Open Data advocate Hans Rosling meet with Prime Minister Vlad Filat in Moldova to discuss Open Government & Open Data (Source: World Bank, 2011)
2.3. Knowledge Exchange Within the Open Government Partnership Consultations Process By late 2011, Moldova’s contribution within its knowledge networks evolved yet again, as it began to function not only as a knowledge beneficiary, but also as a knowledge provider based on its steadily growing track record in egovernment and Open Data. Funded by the South-South Knowledge Exchange, Tajikistan sent a delegation to learn from their Moldovan counterparts in August 2011. Moldova subsequently shared its expertise with Macedonia, Kenya and seven other countries in the Opening Up Development and Open Government Dialogues held in December 2011 and January 2012, respectively (World Bank, 2012). Knowledge exchange has continued to be a core part of Moldova’s e-Transformation strategy in 2012 as it seeks to take its commitment to Open Data and Open Government to even further. From January through March 2012, Moldova’s e-Government Center hosted consultations on Moldova’s Open Government action plan, drawing upon experiences from the US and UK in the Open Government Partnership (OpenGovPartners.org). The same day, a 6
videoconference under the umbrella of the South-South Exchange Facility between Moldova, Macedonia and global experts focused on best practices in open budget and Open Data (OpenGovPartners.org, 2012). 2.4. Open Innovation Week 2012 & Establishing a Moldova-Africa Collaboration Most recently, Moldova’s Open Innovation Week in May 2012 brought together local stakeholders from public, private and civil society with international experts for a series of skills-building activities intended to raise awareness and stimulate demand among citizens and recognize the value of leveraging Open Data to achieve social and commercial value. A Data-Driven Journalism Bootcamp targeted Moldovan journalists from traditional and electronic media, providing a two-day training and networking event that enhanced understanding of how to use raw data and data based applications to strengthen reporting. A Smart Government event held in partnership with the Moldova ICT Summit 2012, allowed Moldova to showcase developments in its Open Data and Open Government initiatives before an international audience, expand their knowledge networks, as well as glean new ideas from related efforts around the world. A TechCamp and Hackathon created a forum for developers to design new applications of social and commercial value around areas of common interest and awarded Innovation Challenge funding to the most promising applications utilizing Moldova’s newly opened data. The week also fostered collaborative ties between Moldova and counterparts in Kenya, another developing country on the vanguard of Open Data movements having launched their portal last year. 2.5. Lessons Learned and Defining Qualities of Moldova’s Knowledge Exchange Moldova’s cultivation of, and participation within, knowledge networks have positively influenced the evolution of its e-Transformation agenda. The design of Moldova’s e-Government plan and e-Government Center has been inspired by similar examples in Estonia, Singapore, and India. Champions within the Moldovan government leveraged the “demonstration effect” of successful e-transformation activities and high-level dialogues with external leaders and practitioners to build internal political will and administrative capacity (Gigler et al, 2011). Engaging representatives of Moldovan companies, civil society and the media through consultative processes, training events and its CoP, the Moldovan government has also effectively mobilized broad based support among its own public. In retrospect, several defining qualities illuminate why Moldova’s knowledge exchange efforts were so successful and influential in the country’s reform efforts. First, Moldova was able to leverage peer-to-peer learning relationships with developing countries facing similar constraints as a “complement, not alternative to”, interactions with international institutions and developed countries. Second, a variety of learning mechanisms were utilized in a mutually reinforcing manner, from large group forums such as conferences and CoPs to smaller group engagement in the form of expert visits and study tours. Third, Moldova benefited from the World Bank’s role in “reducing transaction costs” associated with developing networks and developing learning. Crucially, throughout the process knowledge activities were effectively connected and integrated with “concrete actions such as policy decisions or enacting new legislation” (Gwin, 2011). Finally, knowledge exchange was used to simultaneously enhance capacity in multiple dimensions of mobilizing for social change, from awareness raising and coalition development, to policy formulation and program implementation (Gwin, 2011). The following section describes the evolution of the Moldova Open Data initiative and provides a unique insight into data.gov.md access and usage patterns since the launch.
3. Moldova Open Data Initiative
In April 2011, Moldova became one of the first countries in the region and among the first 16 in the world to launch an Open Data portal. While some countries in Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) 7
have Open Data portals that provide government information, many have been launched by Civil Society organizations such as: the Open Knowledge Foundation, Institute for Development of Freedom of Information and Open Society Foundation (see Table 3.1). Moldova Open Data represents one of the few initiatives initiated by a government institution in the region according to a study by UNDP (2011). Country
EU/Estonia EU/Lithuania EU/Poland EU/Slovenia EU Czech Republic EU/Hungary EU/Slovenia Moldova
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2011
pub.stat.ee/pxweb.2001/Dialog/ statfile1.asp it.ckan.net pl.ckan.net si.ckan.net cz.ckan.net hu.ckan.net datanest.fairplay.sk data.gov.md
Statistics Estonia Open Knowledge Foundation Open Knowledge Foundation Open Knowledge Foundation Open Knowledge Foundation Neumann Nonprofit Kft. with support of the Office of the Prime Minister NGO Fair-play Alliance Government of Moldova, with financial support from the World Bank A team of IT specialists running one of the largest Albanian portals shqiperia.com. The project was launched with the financial support of the Open Society Foundation. Institute of Development of Freedom of Information with financial support of the Open Society – Georgia Foundation. A personal project by Ivan Begtin.
Public Information Database opendata.ge opengovdata.ru
Table 3.1: Open Data Initiatives in Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (Source: UNDP Bratislava Regional Center, 2011)
Moldova’s Open Data portal was launched on April 15th 2011 with the publication of 67 datasets from five public agencies on a range of categories including: education, healthcare, economics, finance and agriculture. While many ministries and central administration offices such as the National Bureau of Statistics continue to publish data of public interest online, the Open Data portal represents a single window of access bringing together disparate and disconnected datasets into one place. The Open Data portal facilitates ease of access and contributes to the cultivation of an “enabling environment” to unlock the value of such publicly accessible data (see Section 4). In striking comparison to many other Open Data repositories, Moldova’s Open Data portal harnesses a freely available online publishing platform where customization focused solely on the “look and feel” allowed Moldova’s e-Government Center to launch rapidly and without significant upfront investment (Figure 3.1).
Figure 3.1: Moldova Open Data portal (data.gov.md)
The Moldova Open Data initiative also includes an “open geospatial” repository, www.geoportal.md, with the publication of datasets ranging from a cadastral map, aerial photograph, topographic map and information on the location of some public amenities. This represents one of the few such repositories within the global Open Data movement. As John Denham (Former Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government) states, “[geospatial] information is right at the heart of this revolution of underpinning the nation with greater access to data” (2009, p.08). As Denham (2010) notes, open data can appear vague and uncertain in the absence of a strong geo-referenced and visual framework. The addition of geospatial references to datasets on public services and expenditures, for example, can be an important means of disaggregating information and facilitating tracking of benefits or costs at a local level. Studies of citizen participation and motivation consistently report on the power of granular, local-level information to drive interest in an Open Data portal. In proactively making geospatial data available to be mashed up with other datasets, the Moldovan government is increasing the likelihood that citizens will be able to make meaningful and effective use of Open Data. Moldova’s Open Data initiative formed initially around a small coalition of supportive ministries. The guiding philosophy of the initiative was to create momentum by institutionalizing Open Data among agencies, identifying key supporting actors within government and following the path of least resistance. To formalize the process and create a sustainable data pipeline, Prime Minister Vlad Filat on April 29, 2011 signed an Open Data Directive. The directive mandated that all ministries, public institutions and other authorities identify on a three sets of data on a monthly basis that would be of interest to citizens and businesses for publication to data.gov.md portal. The directive also outlined expectations for government institutions to provide regular updates of these datasets, depending on their update frequency. Following the Open Data Directive and under the auspices of the World Bank-supported BOOST project, in 2011, the Ministry of Finance published for the first time its public expenditure data in raw and pivot table format, detailing all public spending over the last five years. BOOST is the name of a data tool developed at the World Bank, which 9
collects and compiles detailed data on public expenditures from national treasury systems and presents it in a simple, user-friendly format and links spending to relevant results (see Kheyfets et al. 2011). In Moldova, the BOOST government expenditure database was constructed at the request of the Minister of Finance based on the treasury data provided to the World Bank by Fintehinform, a state-owned enterprise maintaining information systems for public financial administration (Figure 3.2.) Subsequent to launching the Open Data initiative, Moldova worked with the BOOST team to make the full set of public expenditure data available on the web via the Moldova Open Data portal using an online application called Web BOOST.
Figure 3.2: Moldova BOOST initiative (Source: data.gov.md)
Since the launch of Prime Minister’s Directive, the number of datasets was initially growing, but after several months, datasets being released by ministries began to decrease. New measures were taken in order to support the Open Data Initiative and ensure opening and constant flow of open data. The Prime Minister’s request mandated that government organizations identify an open data focal point within each ministry, resulting in an Open Data work force. Since the establishment of this work force, the number of datasets released has been growing. Through a pilot internship program, the e-Government Center placed unpaid interns in the ministries of Health, Defense and Culture to provide extra temporary manpower for data processing. The e-Government Center worked closely with supportive ministries to curate, digitize and transform datasets to formats prescribed by Open Data initiatives in order to reduce barriers of resistance and ensure data release via the Open Data portal. Through a pilot internship program, the e-Government Center placed unpaid interns in the ministries of Health, Defense and Culture to provide extra temporary manpower for data processing. While the Open Data Directive represents an important first step in addressing the supply-side of Open Data, many challenges still lie ahead regarding the availability of information from public institutions in Moldova. To illustrate, of the 324 datasets released through this initiative, over 78 percent of published datasets have been provided by 6 institutes as illustrated in Figure 3.3: National Bureau of Statistics, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Economy, Ministry of and Ministry of ICT. The variation between highly contributing ministries and the others may be partly reflective of the different volumes of information handled by different ministries. At least part of this divergence, however, may be reflective of challenges in overcoming bureaucratic norms of secrecy and information 10
silos. Moldova’s strategy of following the path of least resistance and prioritizing collaboration with ministries volunteering information, while helpful in the initial launch of the Open Data portal, will ultimately need to shift towards ensuring compliance by all ministries with the Prime Minister’s Directive. It should be noted that the high volume of datasets provided by the National Bureau Statistics (NBS) is an unusual case, as data.gov.md primarily links to data from the Bureau’s own data portal. Metadata provides information on the list of datasets that is accessed through the link.
Figure 3.3: Number of Datasets published on data.gov.md by each Moldova Institute and Ministry (Data Source: eGovernment Center, April 2012) A performance dashboard is also available on date.gov.md. Note: The number of datasets from the National Bureau of Statistics is comparatively larger because has its own database and sophisticated online application process.
Barriers to Open Data implementation in Moldova are closely aligned with experiences in Australia (AU), Denmark (DK), Spain (ES), UK and the US, including: (1) active or passive ministry refusal to cooperate in the face of decisive policy change, (2) marginalization of data management best practices and controls, (3) legal barriers or confusion about the legal status of data, (4) concerns about data being misunderstood, (5) fears of embarrassment from 11
publishing low quality material and (6) unwillingness to freely release data either due to concerns regarding loss of revenue or secrecy (see Table 3.2). #
AU, DK, ES, UK, US
Top 10 Barriers
Closed government culture. Stakeholders of all the countries studied mentioned the closed government culture as an important barrier to Open Data policy. As one respondent stated “government practitioners are rewarded for secrecy not openness”. Privacy legislation. The countries studied have a strong privacy legislation and cannot publish information that leads to the identification of persons. All countries recognize the tension between Open Data policy and the privacy of their citizens. Limited quality of data. Several countries suggested that the quality of some government data is too limited to permit its publication. Limited user-friendliness/info overload. Technical experts of several countries stated that the existing databases should be converted into more user-friendly datasets to increase accessibility and usefulness to citizens and businesses. Lack of Standardization of Open Data policy. A lack of Open Data standards between (levels) of government organizations has been identified as a barrier to Open Data usage by citizens and businesses and subsequently new Open Data policy. Security threats. In particular UK and US policy makers and experts stated that – because of security concerns – some government data cannot be published. Existing charging models. In particular the European countries identified existing charging models as a barrier. Currently, the income of several government organizations is based on the selling of data, which makes them reluctant to publish the data. Uncertain economic impact. Uncertainty about the economic impact makes some countries reluctant to invest in Open Data policy. Digital Divide. Respondents in Spain and the US have stated that their governments should solve the problem of the digital divide so as to ensure equal access to the Open Data. Network overload. Experts in the US identified a limited capacity of existing networks as a barrier to Open Data policy.
2 3 4
AU, DK, ES, UK, US AU, ES, UK, US AU, ES, UK, US
5 6 7 8 9 10
AU, DK, ES, US AU, UK, US ES, DK, UK ES, DK, UK ES, US US
Table 3.2: Barriers of Open Data Implementation (Source: Huijboom and Van den Broek, 2011)
One potential solution to several of these barriers would be to remove the proprietary control over information by ministries holding data in silos through developing a common data infrastructure such as a joint management information system. The e-Government Center is addressing this and other considerations in its efforts to cultivate an enabling environment and realize the full potential of Open Government and Open Data in Moldova. This will be further addressed at length in Section 4. As of April 2012, the Moldova Open Data portal had published 334 datasets, 226 of which were being published for the first time. The site has attracted 33,015 visitors that have generated 37,051 data downloads in the 12 months since its launch (Figure 3.4 and 3.5).
Figure 3.4: The Number of Visitors to data.gov.md from April 2011 to April 2012 (Data Source: e-Government Center, April 2012)
Figure 3.5: Number of Total Datasets Downloaded and Uploaded onto data.gov.md from April 2011 to April 2012 (Data Source: e-Government Center, April 2012)
Datasets on law and order, crime, education, public expenditure and tourism were most popular, accounting for 40 percent of all downloads (Table 3.3). #
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Title of the Dataset
Lista comisariatelor de politie Informatia privind persoanele, care au savarsit infractiuni Rata criminalitatii pe localitati si pe tipuri de infractiuni Sinteza accidentelor rutiere Lista programelor/proiectelor din sfera stiintei si inovarii, finantate din bugetul de stat Rezultatele combaterii infractionalitatii – traficul de personae Lista agentilor economici din industria turismului Harta interactive a comisariatelor de politie din Republica Moldova Cheltuielile bugetului de stat: planificate si executate Date despre persoanele asigurate
Title in English
List of police stations Information of persons that have committed crimes Criminality rate by location and types of crime committed Information on road accidents List of programs/ projects in science and innovation, financed from state budget Results of combating criminality – trafficking of people List of economic agents in the tourism industry Interactive map of police stations in Moldova State budget expenditures: planned and executed Data about insured persons
2709 1749 1568 1444 1422
6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
1351 1037 912 784 724
Table 3.3: List of the 10 most downloaded datasets from data.gov.md (Source: e-Government Center 2012)
To further promote citizen-centric innovation, the e-Government Center cooperated with the World Bank Civil Society Fund in Moldova - which provides grants to nongovernmental and civil society organizations – to launch an eTransformation Contest in April 2011. This initiative supported development of applications for transparency and social accountability in governance. Out of 21 eligible proposals, a selection committee gave financial awards to five NGOs. The e-Transformation Contest catalyzed ideas for the development of applications and services of real value including the Environmental Web Map, Kindergartens Online and Alerte.md. Alerte.md achieved the distinction of being formally adopted by the Municipality of Chisinau (see Figure 3.6). Abdoulaye Seck, the World Bank Country Manager, notes that the program represented an “opportunity to get a sense of what citizens want and it helps us to keep focused on what matters on the ground” (p.01, 2011).
Figure 3.6: Alerte.md – A map-based platform for citizens to report social problems in Chisinau.
The e-Transformation Contest was followed by the first Moldovan TechCamp held in Chisinau on July 15-16th 2011. TechCamp is a program under US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Civil Society 2.0 initiative – an effort to galvanize the technology community to assist civil society organizations across the globe to provide training, resources, and assistance that enable civil society organizations to harness the latest technologies to build their capacity and advance their mission. More importantly, it provides a meeting place or third space for “civil society organizations and technologists for brainstorming, inspiration and problem solutions” (USAID, 2011). Sponsored by the US Department of State Office of eDiplomacy, USAID, the eGovernment Center and the World Bank, TechCamp Moldova attracted 75 representatives from across civil society, media, government and the private sector interested in innovating with Open Government Data (Figure 3.7).
Figure 3.7: Moldovan TechCamp, Chisinau July 15-16th 2011 (Source: USAID, 2011)
Over the course of two days, technologists and civil society organizations crafted ten problem statements and technology enabled solutions to make government data accessible, promote transparency, and empower citizens. The resulting proposals varied from a simple webpage where citizens can post complaints to developing applications, as well as creating maps that show accessibility for disabled people. The event was sufficiently successful that it catalyzed interest in holding a second TechCamp and Hackathon in May 2012. This event was outlined in Section 2. This supply of government information has been complemented by a series of activities to address the demand side and stimulate public interest in, and use of, Open Data. The e-Government Center has collaborated with the World Bank and other partners to organize training seminars with media representatives to provide exposure to the use and application of Open Data through the emerging field of data-driven journalism. It is also working with civil society representatives to identify datasets of greatest interest to the public (see Section 4). The following section provides a comparative study of Moldova Open Data and related US, UK and Kenya initiatives focusing on the conceptual models of Open Data in developing and developed countries.
4. Models of Open Data in Developed and Developing Countries
While the first wave of Open Data initiatives were predominately from higher-income OECD countries, the emergence of initiatives in countries such as Kenya and Moldova demonstrates interest in its transformational potential, irrespective of income group or region. Gigler et al (2011) identify four common motivational drivers evident in the declarations of why governments are interested in pursing Open Data initiatives, including: (1) increasing transparency and accountability, (2) catalyzing economic growth and innovation, (3) strengthening citizen participation in governance and (4) enhancing government efficiency. This phenomenon provokes questions regarding the transferability of modalities from Open Government Data’s first wave into developing country contexts with drastically different capacities of societal actors and environmental conditions (Gigler et al, 2011). Most nascent Open Government Data initiatives, regardless of the relative level of development of the country involved, frequently cite the US and UK as the examples to emulate. In this respect, the modalities used by the US and UK to catalyze and implement their Open Data initiatives have become the default ‘model’ for the release of public sector information worldwide, further reinforced by advocates promoting the ‘transfer and diffusion’ of this Open Data model as universally applicable, regardless of contextual differences in less developed countries (Avgerou, 2010; Gigler et al, 2011). With reference to the models proposed by TAI (2010), there is an implicit assumption that actors representing the demand and supply side of public sector information remain constant for both developed and developing countries. Moreover, on the demand-side it assumes civil society (either individual citizens or civil society and private sector intermediaries) has the will and capacity to use Open Government data to achieve social and commercial value. On the supply-side, the model assumes government will to mandate release of public sector information and endogenous capacity to implement such an initiative (Gigler et al, 2011). In the Transparency and Accountability Initiative (TAI) Open Data Study (written by Becky Hogge) which analyzed the evolution of the US and UK initiatives TAI proposed a three-tier model describing three sets of actors instrumental to Open Government Data in the UK and US (Rahemtulla et al, 2011; Figure 4.1a):
1. High-level political leaders provided political will to overcome the inertia of bureaucratic silos and secrecy that could inhibit Open Data and forged partnerships with technocratic champions to garner credibility and galvanize progress; 2. Mid-level bureaucrats acted as a second ‘supply-side’ Open Data driver based on their willingness and capacity to release datasets for public use, being convinced by top-level mandates indicating they would be rewarded for making information available and examples of productive third party data use; 3. Civil society, and in particular a small and motivated group of “civil hackers”, provided the bottom up pressure for change through traditional advocacy and by creating applications featuring government data to provide new public services. The report also asserts, based on interviews conducted with a selection of domain and regional experts pursuing similar goals for developing and middle-income countries, that in such countries there would need to be a fourth tier of potential drivers towards Open Data (Rahemtulla et al, 2011; Figure 4.1b). This would be in the shape of international aid donors. Specifically, developing nations will need funding and guidance from international aid donors to achieve the inspiration and successful implementation while indirectly influencing developing countries either through releasing their own data or linking development assistance to progress on such initiatives effectively creating a new form of governance conditionality (Gigler et al, 2011).
Figure 4.1: A conceptual model of Open Data in (a) Developed and (b) Developing countries. These models have been developed by Rahemtulla based on reflections of the TAI (2010) Open Data study (Source: Rahemtulla et al. 2011).
In July 2011, Kenya became one of the first African countries to launch an Open Data portal, releasing over 160 datasets on budget and expenditure data, as well as information on health care and school facilities. This initiative intends to facilitate greater public sector transparency and accountability, fundamentally changing the nature of citizen-government interaction. The initiative has also generated much excitement within the developer community leveraging information, vision and digital technology to create innovate applications that translate public data into a range of new services and goods for society (Rahemtulla et al, 2011). With reference to the study by Rahemtulla et al. (2011) on Open Data Kenya, the study identified three actor groups which were instrumental to the inception and realization of this initiative in Kenya (Figure 4.2): 17
1. A high-level change agent within government with the political will, leadership and vision to be the Open Data champion within government; 2. Supporting actors within and external to government providing knowledge exchange and capacity building at an institutional level; 3. Civil society and private sector as demand-side drivers advocating for the release of public sector information. Both models developed by Hogge (2010) and Rahemtulla et al. (2012) for the US, UK and Kenya feature supply and demand almost exclusively arising from forces such as reformist politicians, competent bureaucrats, empowered citizens and a mobilized civil society.
Figure 4.2: A conceptual model of Open Data Kenya (Source: Rahemtulla et al., 2011).
Analyzing the Moldova Open Data initiative, this study has identified four actor groups as illustrated in Figure 4.3 which were instrumental to the inception and realization of this initiative: 1. Enablers: International Development Organizations (i.e., World Bank, USAID and UNDP) through financial assistance, guidance and knowledge translated nascent interest in ICTs for modernization into an expanded vision of Open Government and Open Data;
2. High level champions: Prime Minister Vlad Filat and Secretary General Victor Bodiu, provided the political commitment and vision while leveraging knowledge exchange networks to strengthen political will, administrative capacity and broad based public support; 3. Supporting Actors: The e-Government Center as a key driver working closely with line ministries through socializing Open Data among agencies and providing both technical and implementation support for the initiative; 4. Supply-Side Drivers: A small group of supportive ministries acted as an important supply-side driver based on their willingness and capacity to release datasets for public use and adhering to Prime Minister Vlad Filat top-level mandate, the Open Data Directive.
Figure 4.3: A conceptual model of Open Data Moldova
Notably, Moldova Open Data was largely supply side driven, arising almost exclusively from forces internally within government, as opposed to arising from endogenous demand from empowered citizens and mobilized civil society. Suppressed demand could have been a result of civil society’s disappointment in the government, andresponsiveness, citizens’ belief that data that government will release will not be so credible or that government will not open the sensitive public data of high public interest but very revealing of government inefficiency) This gives rise to an important question regarding the relative ease of mobilizing endogenous demand: to what extent can the existence of civil society and private sector groups to help citizens interpret government data and develop new goods and services be assumed? 19
As Gigler et al (2011) assert, this may be a flawed assumption, as many developing countries may lack adequate civic space, digital inclusion, and informational capabilities for citizens to immediately benefit from Open Data, which constrains demand for such initiatives. In addition, organized civil society and other third parties may have limited organizational capacity to serve in important infomediary functions and there is likely to be weaker linkages among civic hackers, hampering citizen capacity to mobilize and demand action. While developing countries are leapfrogging legacy technologies and adopting new ICTs with impressive speed, a digital divide exists as only a small fraction of the population has the opportunity to make effective use of these technologies. An Open Data initiative could create a new data divide, further exacerbating inequalities. As fewer citizens in developing countries are connected to the digital world, the public domain ideal of third party groups using Open Data to create value for society could unintentionally strengthen rent-seeking groups that asymmetrically exploit freely accessible information (Gigler et al, 2011). Open Data contends that the proactive release of public sector information will lead to improved governance and social accountability, in particular reducing information asymmetries which strengthens the ability of citizens and civil groups to monitor public sector performance, contest policies or demand action. However, while Open Data is a helpful input to social accountability enabling evidence-based advocacy, transparency does not automatically produce scrutiny. Four ingredients have been identified as essential for social accountability to flourish: organized and capable citizen’s groups; responsive government; access to and effective use of information; and sensitivity to culture and context. If Open Data is to realize its claims, policy makers must address the capacity and civic groups to navigate the data and its underlying systems; and meaningful engage with their governments to plan and negotiate change. The presence of these ingredients cannot be taken for granted and yet are only minimally addressed, thus far, in the Open Data conversation (Gigler et al, 2011). The release of public sector information is arguably an extension, or sub-set, of e-government as a service provided to the public through an electronic medium, creating similar dynamics to Open Data. The experience of e-government and the two earliest Open Data initiatives in the US and UK are, therefore, the best benchmarks that can be used for analysis. An Open Data initiative can be compartmentalized into two stages of initial take off and sustained institutionalization to facilitate analysis. Take off considers factors pertinent to Open Data initial launch or deployment, while institutionalization implies addressing challenges pertaining to the scope, impact and implementation of Open Data influencing its progress in the long-term. Irrespective of a country’s means, policy makers must address obstacles to both take off and institutionalization of Open Data to realize its potential (Gigler et al, 2011). The following section describes the mechanisms being implemented by Moldova to cultivate this environment and to realize the long-term vision of Open Government and Open Data.
5. Cultivating an Enabling Environment for Moldovan Open Government and Open Data
As previously stated, Moldova’s Open Government and Open Data initiatives seek to harness ICTs to improve service delivery, increase transparency and catalyze innovation. Moldova faces the dual challenge of mobilizing support for initial reforms to take off in the short-term, while institutionalizing supply and demand for ICT-enabled channels of participation and collaboration in the long-term. The Moldova Governance e-Transformation project, a partnership between the World Bank and the Moldovan government, was formed with the express purpose of creating such an enabling environment.
The US$23 million Governance e-Transformation project strengthens the capacity of the Moldovan government to provide new public services and that of the Moldovan public to use these new channels productively. The first component, “e-Leadership Capacity and Enabling Environment”, utilizes targeted training and communications activities to strengthen motivation and capacity among diverse stakeholder groups, as well as promulgating essential legal and regulatory reforms to facilitate Open Government and Open Data initiative. The second component, “Shared Infrastructure and E-Services”, establishes a shared cloud computing infrastructure (M-Cloud) with mobile delivery system and streamlines front-end interfaces and back-end supporting services, all of which intend to maximize speed and accessibility of government e-services and data (World Bank, 2011). To understand how the Governance e-Transformation project is envisioned to create catalytic conditions for Open Government and Open Data in Moldova, it is instructive to evaluate it against enabling factors illuminated by other initiatives. Gigler et al (2011) have identified several environmental factors that influence the relative success of Open Data initiatives, including: (1) legislative and regulatory frameworks; (2) national information infrastructure and policies; (3) government legitimacy and civic space; (4) bureaucratic culture and political resistance; (5) inclusiveness of participation; (6) meaningful use; and (7) sustainability. The subsequent paragraphs apply these factors to the efforts of the Moldova case to assess how an enabling environment is being cultivated and to what effect. 5.1. Legislative and Regulatory Frameworks Existing legislation and regulation may facilitate or hamper Open Government and Open Data initiatives. Furthermore, the move towards e-services and publicly accessible information produces new issues around access to information, data provenance and re-use, as well as personal privacy that must be addressed. Both the Governance eTransformation project and the Moldovan Open Government action plan recognize this and are incorporating legislative reform activities and developing regulatory frameworks informed by international best practices on Open Data, e-service provision and personal data protection. The e-Government Center has developed connections with the National Center for Personal Data Protection to ensure clarity around personal privacy issues and Open Data. One area that remains murky, however, is lack of a consistent standard on data licensing critical to fostering prolific reuse of public sector information. The latter may be addressed with the drafting of a public sector information reuse law, planned as an activity within the Open Government action plan for late 2012 (Government of Moldova, 2012). There is some divergence between the de jure rules and de facto norms governing Open Data and Open Government, however. While there are well-written laws, enforcement remains weak, undercutting compliance. This gap will need to be addressed in existing and proposed legislation, if laws are to have effect beyond tokenism. Moldova’s progress in Open Government and Open Data is highly correlated with the ascendance of reform-minded political leadership in the parliamentary and presidential elections of 2009, creating a fortuitous “policy window” for change (Pal, 2006). Codifying these gains in the form of robust legislation and regulatory frameworks that delineate clear standards for government performance on Open Data and Open Government, combined with effective enforcement mechanisms, will be critical to ‘lock in’ these reforms in the event of leadership succession. 5.2. National Information Infrastructure and Policies Developing sufficient information architecture including systems, hardware and software is necessary to facilitate data exchange between government agencies and the public. Moldova does not yet have an integrated management information system, which will be important to address in order to break down inter-agency information silos that frustrate the release of data and interoperability of systems. To ensure sustainability, the e-Government Center has identified the importance of building systems to facilitate collection, archiving, maintenance and release of data. To 21
this end, Moldova’s Open Government Action Plan includes measures to create national and institutional standards for data collection, archiving and release that will facilitate interoperability of ministry databases and more efficient public service provision as citizens can increasingly make use of e-services and instant access to the information they need (Government of Moldova, 2012). Under the leadership of the e-Government Center, the Moldovan government aims to launch five new electronic services for citizens annually and is working with experts from Singapore, Estonia and the US to carry out a “comprehensive e-services prioritization exercise” to determine how to sequence them (World Bank, 2011). Developing the front-end interfaces and back-end functions that support e-government services is an important piece of the Governance e-Transformation project that expects to translate into significant cost and time savings in service delivery benefiting government and citizens. The e-Government Center is making progress in developing clear policy guidance, having held consultations with civil society and private sector representatives on an Open Government roadmap and action plan finalized in March 2012. The aforementioned efforts are in line with the Strategic Program for Government Technological Modernization (eTransformation). The Governance e-Transformation project features a cloud-computing project, M-Cloud, which seeks to provide a “common computing infrastructure including core processing, storage, virtualization and service delivery platforms” (World Bank, 2011). Two important characteristics of M-Cloud will include the ability to make “applications and data accessible from multiple network devices” which facilitates integration, as well the mobile delivery system enabling those without Internet to “access services through their mobile phones” (World Bank, 2011). 5.3. Government Legitimacy and Civic Space Civic space in Moldova has been expanding since the parliamentary elections in July 2009 and a subsequent series of legal reforms making it easier for civil society organizations to organize, register and interact with the government (Asipovich, 2010). The current Moldovan government has sought to strengthen public trust through initiatives such as the “Civil Society Development Strategy” (2012-2015) institutionalizing participatory monitoring and evaluation of public policies, as well as the National Participation Council of CSO representatives (Asipovich, 2010). Proactively engaging civil society, the private sector and individual citizens is essential to mobilizing demand for change that, in turn, can impact the will of civil servants and high-level leaders to undertake necessary reforms. The government has recognized the importance of this broad-based engagement, incorporating communications and consultation functions prominently within the Governance e-Transformation project to explicitly attract support from citizens and businesses “to put pressure on departments that are reluctant to embrace it”. A related issue is raising awareness among the public that e-services are “available and how to take advantage of them” (World Bank, 2011). The e-Government Center has made noteworthy progress in this regard. Between January and March 2012, the eGovernment Center hosted online and in-person public consultations on the Moldova Open Government Action Plan (OpenGovPartners.org, 2012). In January 2012, it held meetings with civil society representatives to collect feedback on their priorities and identify capacity building needs. Civil society and private sector representatives have also benefited from participating in various knowledge exchange activities such as conferences, workshops and innovation competitions joined by international experts (see Section 3). 5.4. Bureaucratic Norms and Political Resistance The Moldovan government has extensively utilized knowledge exchange activities with the intention of mobilizing high-level champions to provide political space, matching funds and institutional mandates that have made the Open Government and Open Data initiatives possible. These activities have been discussed at length in Section 4. 22
Institutionalizing Open Government and Open Data also necessitates changes in the attitude and behavior of the civil service bureaucracy. High-level champions may enact legislation or introduce policies, but ultimately the incentives of civil servants must be aligned to provide electronic services and share information openly. At present, there is a lack of clearly defined rewards or punishments for agencies or individual civil servants to compel proactive progress or even minimum compliance. This has led to highly variable reactions between ministries, with some catching the Open Data and Open Government vision and serving as exemplars, while others remain laggards. It was hoped that through the identification of Open Data focal points in each ministry and providing regular forums for interaction, exemplar agencies could showcase what they are doing and why they are doing it to convince their peers of the value. Unfortunately, with limited enforcement mechanisms, it is primarily those agencies that are already committed to the agenda that are faithfully attending focal point meetings and not the others. Reflecting on his own experience and that of other agencies, one line Minister expressed this change management challenge as a slow and steady process of helping civil servants transition from a “20th to 21st century mindset”. Targeted training programs have been provided as part of the Governance e-Transformation project for civil servants in participating ministries to secure buy-in and cultivate essential capacities. Furthermore, through emphasizing use of modern technology, data collection efficiency and reengineering of public services, the e-Government Center aims to streamline bureaucratic procedures and processes, which over time will also create new norms. Despite these challenges, policies and procedures are shaping new norms conducive to Open Government and Open Data. To foster greater transparency, the Moldovan government has mandated live streaming of its meetings, required asset disclosure by public officials and is in the process of instituting official government email accounts to reduce use of personal accounts. The introduction of the shared information architecture across government is making it more difficult to maintain information silos and duplicative data centers. The Open Government Action plan calls for each central government authority to publish, via their webpage and on the Open Data portal, a comprehensive data catalogue on the information their agency is responsible for. These Open Data catalogues could be utilized by the government and civil society for performance monitoring, creating competitive pressure for agencies to fulfill Open Data obligations by facilitating comparison of data released versus their total information holdings. 5.5. Inclusiveness of Participation While the intention of ICT-enabled initiatives such as Open Government and Open Data may be to enhance the proximity of government and increase broad-based participation in policy making, issues of accessibility, affordability and socio-cultural demographics may exacerbate inequities. This is certainly a viable concern in Moldova where Internet access is clearly stratified, with disproportionately high usage rates among urbanites, youth, men and wealthier households (World Bank, 2011). By this metric, rural households, the elderly, women and the poor may be less likely to benefit from Moldova’s move to providing services and information electronically unless intentional steps are taken to ensure their participation. Expanding Internet access and affordability has received comparatively less emphasis than other enabling environment factors in Moldova’s Open Government Action Plan and even the Governance e-Transformation project documentation. That said there is evidence that the need to ensure inclusivity of participation for all societal segments is being considered. Tracking the percentage of women directly benefiting and percentage of citizens accessing public websites have been included as results indicators. The decision to use a mobile delivery system for M-Cloud should facilitate access to government information and services via mobile technology with an estimated 87 percent penetration rate (World Bank, 2011).
Brokering partnerships with international actors is another avenue being explored to enhance inclusivity of Open Data and Open Government. The Governance e-Transformation project raised the possibility of partnering with UNIFEM to establish rural information centers and propose policy reforms that lower cost of ICT access (World Bank, 2011). The e-Government Center is also collaborating with the education-focused international development agency, IREX, to launch a Digital Library project under the IREX’s Global Libraries Program in 2012. The intended outcome of the project will be to transform existing village public libraries into digital information hubs, thereby improving Internet access and technology literacy for rural populations and underprivileged groups.
5.6. Meaningful Use Providing access to electronic services and information is only “meaningful insofar as citizens and intermediaries have the capabilities to use that information…to achieve social and commercial value”. The Moldovan government must ensure the information and services it provides are “relevant” and that citizens have adequate capability and “productive channels” to use it to their benefit (Gigler et al, 2011). The Moldovan government has made considerable strides in increasing the quantity of publicly accessible information through its Open Data initiative. As previously stated, Moldova became the 16th country to launch an Open Data portal, releasing 324 public datasets (Government of Moldova, 2012). The government has subsequently released public expenditure information for the past five years under the World Bank’s BOOST initiative and published online income declarations for civil servants and officials (Government of Moldova, 2012). The government is attempting to prioritize electronic access to data and services of greatest interest to the public, setting a target of delivering the four most demanded public e-services by the end of 2012 (Government of Moldova, 2012). This demand-driven sequencing improves the likelihood that e-services and data will be viewed as relevant, facilitating greater use. Enhancing the capability of civil society, the media and the private sector to make use of electronic services and public sector information has been a highly visible priority to foster the demand-side of Open Data. In April 2012, the World Bank and Moldovan government instituted a Civil Society Fund intended to “stimulate innovations” through providing grants to qualifying civil society organizations developing data-driven applications to enhance “transparency and social accountability” (World Bank, 2011). The design of additional “socially useful apps” is being encouraged through competitions and training events, such as TechCamps, Hackathons and an Open Innovation Contest (see Figure 5.1). These events have facilitated engaging the private and civil society sectors not only as participants, but also co-sponsors. Outreach is also being made to expand awareness and capacity among the Moldovan media, such as a Data Driven Journalism Bootcamp discussed in Section 2. Capability for meaningful use of e-services and information is being realized through the networking of individuals and institutions from the public, private and non-profit sectors within the Moldova Community of Open Data Development (CODD) around a common interest in “fostering…an innovative ecosystem related to Open Government” (OpenGovPartners.org, 2012). This online community of practice for Open Data practitioners in Moldova was established in February 2012 with the intention of sustaining the engagement of individuals who had participated in various Open Data events listed previously. The CODD is run entirely by volunteers and with only minimal start-up financing from the World Bank to purchase a domain name. At present, the community is a loose coalition of individuals, however, the community’s organizer wants to see it transition to a membership basis where each community member volunteers their time to take leadership in supporting events or information sharing in at least one thematic area.
To increase channels for citizens and organizations to use e-services and information, the Moldovan government has already unveiled three online portals, thus far, with plans for more. In addition to the Open Data portal, the Moldovan government also launched a public services portal, www.servicii.gov.md, in April 2012 as a one-stop shop for citizens to access government services available electronically (Government of Moldova, 2012). A participatory decisionmaking portal, www.particip.gov.md, was launched in early 2012 and it facilitated online consultation around the Open Government Action plan. A fourth online petition platform (www.petitii.gov.md) is planned under the auspices of the Open Government Action plan (Government of Moldova, 2012).
Figure 5.1: Stimulating the Demand-Side of Open Data Moldova
5.7. Sustainability While external experts and financing can be helpful in the initial stages of catalyzing Open Government and Open Data, for these initiatives to become fully institutionalized substantial investments must be made to secure adequate local human and financial capital to sustain them in the long-term. There has been concerted effort to address the 25
human capacity piece in both GeT and the Moldova Open Government action plan, most notably in forming and developing the capacity of the e-Government Center. The e-Government Center is in charge of the day-to-day implementation of e-Transformation activities and is ultimately envisioned to serve as a resource to other ministries and agencies as they develop their electronic services and data. The National Endowment for Geospatial Data has also been created under the Agency of Land Relations and Cadaster and has independently initiated centralized monitoring, storage and use of geodetic and cartographic documents”. The Prime Minister’s Open Data Directive mandated that all government agencies must appoint at least one focal point responsible for their agencies’ progress in achieving Open Data targets. This contributes to sustainability through institutionalizing responsibility for the day-to-day operations of Open Data. Beyond this, “2,000 government employees have been trained in implementing e-government services” (Government of Moldova, 2012). There are also tentative plans in place to bring on a new data analyst position in each government agency that may further institutionalize human capacity for Open Data. There has been comparatively less emphasis on securing sustained budget for Open Government and Open Data activities once the World Bank financing is complete, however, it has been anticipated that the move to online service delivery may reduce costs, thereby freeing up additional funding. Ultimately the most potent form of sustainability is tied to changing the culture within government and society at large such that data-driven decision making becomes the norm and ensures that the ongoing supply and demand of open data is secured.
6. Recommendations: A Road Map for Sustained Open Government & Open Data
To date, Moldova has strengthened its e-governance credentials since inaugurating the Governance e-Transformation project in 2010, launching an Open Data initiative in April 2011 (World Bank, 2011) and signing onto the Open Government Partnership in September 2011 (Open Government Partnership, 2011). This improvement has been captured by the United Nations E-Government Survey, which increased Moldova’s ranking from 80th in 2010 to 69th in 2012 (United Nations, 2012). Considerable progress has been achieved through Moldova’s attention to fundamental enablers of Open Government and Open Data, including: legislative and regulatory frameworks, national information infrastructure and policies, government legitimacy and civic space, bureaucratic culture and political will, inclusiveness of participation, meaningful use and sustainability. Moldova still has work to do if it is to realize its vision of e-Transformation and move closer to its Eastern European counterparts. Despite substantial improvement in the past two years, Moldova lags behind the regional average on egovernment indicators (UN, 2012). That said, leveraging existing political will, e-government capacity and the support of partners such as the UNDP, USAID and World Bank, Moldova has the potential to sustain a trajectory of continual improvement in using ICTs to enhance service delivery, increase transparency and catalyze innovation. Similar to the experiences of other countries, the first phase of Moldova’s Open Data and Open Government initiatives has focused on prioritizing short-term objectives needed to build political will and public support such as: releasing preliminary data sets, conducting trainings and holding public awareness events. If Moldova is to achieve further gains, however, it must navigate a transition from establishing a credible ‘proof of concept’ to a second phase of institutionalization necessary to sustain the initiatives for the long-term. This transition will require creating seamless cooperation and information architecture between those managing data in decentralized departments and those spearheading Open Government. It will also involve substantial change management and citizen engagement activities to change the ‘rules of the game’ governing citizen-government interaction. This following section of this paper outlines a series of nine recommendations that collectively provides a road map for Moldova to strengthen and build upon its current Open Government and Open Data initiatives for successful institutionalization.
6.1. Strengthen Content and Enforcement of Open Data Legislation and Regulations Moldova is making progress on creating a policy environment conducive for Open Government and Open Data. With its Open Data Directive of April 2011, the Prime Minister set expectations for ministries to release three new datasets each month. The Open Government Action Plan approved in April 2012, elaborates a more comprehensive roadmap for Moldova to achieve its Open Data and Open Government commitments. With regard to legislation, the action plan calls for development of a public sector information re-use law by the end of 2012. The action plan also identifies the expectation that government agencies develop data standards for collection, archiving and digital publication. This all indicates movement in a positive direction; however, there are still areas for improvement. Specifically, it is recommended that Moldova: (a) develop a clear framework and coordinated process for the planned agency data standards setting exercise; (b) expand the Open Data Directive to incorporate the newly devised data standards and address additional considerations such as data privacy, provenance and licensing; (c) codify the mandate and data standards outlined in the expanded Open Data Directive into the proposed public sector information re-use law to ensure continuity of reforms regardless of changes in political leadership; and (d) delineate and implement enforcement mechanisms that utilize rewards and punishments to increase agency compliance with the current Open Data Directive requirements. Illustrative Examples With the increasing availability of public sector data, it is imperative that there are adequate legislative provisions for data privacy and complementary enforcement mechanisms. Three illustrative best practice examples in data privacy are: the EU Data Protection Directive, Germany’s Federal Commissioner for Data Protection Compliance and South Korea’s use of two government agencies to enforce its Data Protection Act. Providing a clear policy framework and standard for data licensing are also essential to encouraging prolific re-use of public sector information. Commonly cited best practices are the UK Government Licensing Framework (UKGLF) which creates policy guidance and principles for licensing and the use of the Open Government License as the default license. 6.2. Inventory Government Information Management Practices and Develop Targeted Strategies for Laggards At the central government level alone, Moldova has twenty-three central government authorities, including seven agencies and sixteen ministries. Each of these government entities has unique practices (i.e. – standards for collecting, storing, digitizing and disseminating data) and capacity (i.e. – staff with adequate technical capabilities and management information systems) for information and data management. Some have information and data management capacity, but lack political will to share that publicly. Others lack even this basic information and data management capacity. This confounds attempts to utilize a generic approach with each entity, as they are at different starting points. The e-Government Center faces a substantial challenge in employing contextually appropriate strategies to engage these organizational units, particularly those that are lagging behind on Open Data or Open Government, to become increasingly open, efficient and effective. However, with already limited staff, the eGC lacks the capacity itself to undertake such a comprehensive mapping exercise. Either the eGC will need additional human resources to carry out this inventory and contextualized strategy development process, or it will need to work in close partnership with other interested stakeholders such as the World Bank, Moldova Community of Open Data Development or the Moldovan Association of Private ICT Companies. Specifically, it is recommended that Moldova: (a) conduct a detailed inventory or mapping of existing public sector information and data management practices and capacity (as defined above) in all central government entities; (b) develop targeted strategies for each central government entity to address identified gaps in existing information and 27
data management practices, capacity and political will; (c) conduct outreach with the World Bank, CODD and APIC, among other actors, to mobilize additional human and financial resources to work alongside the eGC in undertaking this exercise; and (d) in conjunction with recommendation 6.1.a., establish a proposed framework for inter-agency data and metadata standards to ensure data is reusable, interoperable, relevant and machine readable. Illustrative Examples The application of Business Process Management approaches could support Moldova’s mapping of government information management practices and capacity from a lens of improving the efficiency and quality of government processes, examining process flow and user experience from end-to-end. The underlying idea behind BPM is to facilitate process changes without disturbing front-end user interfaces or back-end business applications and databases. Identifying government process improvements could be an additional way to solicit the perspectives and resources of the private and civil society sectors, even if they are not involved in carrying out the comprehensive mapping. Ensuring clear standards for Open Data is essential to sustaining ongoing provision, and use, of publicly available data. The EU INSPIRE Directive and the Public Data principles are comprehensive Open Data standards widely acknowledged as best practice. Specific to interoperability guidelines, the European Interoperability Framework for European Public Services advises interoperability standards along four dimension: legal, organizational, semantic and technical. To further facilitate common standards and inter-agency cooperation on Open Data, Moldova may consider adopting a National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) such as that developed in the US. As a collaborative partnership across all levels of government and with the private sector, NIEM develops and executes common information exchange standards and processes to automate effective and efficient information sharing. 6.3. Enhance Accessibility and Usability of Data From Central Government and Expand to Local Government With the launch of its Open Data portal, data.gov.md, Moldova has taken an important step in making public sector information to the public, however, further work is needed to sustain the opening of additional data and facilitate ease of use. The Open Government Action Plan, approved in April 2012, makes several commitments in this regard. Twenty-six priority datasets are identified that will be opened by the end of 2012 based on public demand. There is a mandate that each central government entity publish a data catalogue of the information it holds via their website and the Open Data portal. Geospatial information is also being made available via www.geoportal.md that has the potential to facilitate visualizations of public sector information. This all indicates movement in a positive direction; however, there are still areas for improvement. In the early stages of Moldova’s Open Data initiative, the emphasis has been on working with central government entities; however, there is an untapped opportunity to engage with local level governments in districts (raions) and municipalities that are likely to have access to granular data on local public services and expenditures which citizens are most interested in. If there is greater receptivity at the local government level to sharing information, this may also serve as a targeted strategy to work around laggard central entities (recommendation 6.2.b.). Specifically, it is recommended that Moldova: (a) adopt a consistent and transparent set of criteria to guide the future prioritization of datasets for release; (b) coordinate with central government entities around a common template for their published data catalogues to ensure that they provide relevant metadata as well as facilitate comparison and integration within a master catalogue; (c) work with the private sector to develop tools that enable users to visualize and mash up public sector data from data.gov.md and geospatial data from www.geoportal.md and make these easily available; and (d) hold preliminary awareness meetings with municipal and district leaders, selecting 3-5 of the most promising to pilot local-level initiatives on Open Data and Open Government.
Illustrative Examples To avoid ad hoc prioritization, Moldova could adopt a set of public value criteria to guide identification of high value datasets for early release. Civic Commons (2012) proffers one such set of criteria, recommending release of data informed by: “evidence” of what people commonly request (e.g. via a Freedom of Information Act, Google searches or a 311 service); “feedback” from citizens on what is most valuable to them; utility of data that is “low hanging fruit” (i.e. readily available and non-contentious); and an assessment of “investment return” (i.e. that which generates positive externalities through increased safety, cost savings or economic activity). Gartner proposes an alternative set of criteria weighing the relative value of Open Government data along dimensions of constituent service, operational efficiency and impact on agency mission (Gartner, 2010). 6.4. Consider Outsourcing, Crowdsourcing, Micro-work and Staff Development to Process and Improve Data The day-to-day operations of an Open Data initiative can involve repetitive and time consuming tasks in preparing new datasets for release and curating existing ones, including: data cleaning, digitization of hard copy records and reformatting of datasets to proscribed standards such as ensuring machine readability. As previously discussed, the eGC and other central government entities have limited staff to carry out these activities, which poses problems of ensuring data veracity and delays in releasing new datasets. The eGC has benefited from the use of unpaid interns to bolster data processing, however, this is a temporary and incomplete solution. The appointment of Open Data focal points is also an improvement, however, many of these individuals lack technical skills to either engage in the data processing themselves or support those that do. To sustain ongoing publication of new datasets beyond a one-time data push with the initial launch of data.gov.md, Moldova will need to evaluate the relative usefulness of various staffing solutions to its data processing needs. Similarly, while data accuracy is important to correct interpretation, the government should not be deterred in releasing data for fear of errors. Instead, it should proactively solicit assistance from the public and others to continually improve upon the veracity of its information. Specifically, it is recommended that Moldova: (a) evaluate relative costs and benefits of building data processing capacity in-house through staff hiring or training, versus drawing upon that capacity externally through employing individual citizens using ‘microwork’ platforms (see examples below) or ‘outsourcing’ to private companies in feefor-service contracts; and (b) work with the private sector, civil society and donors to develop crowdsourcing tools and applications that will enable citizen feedback to improve the accuracy and veracity of publicly available datasets. Illustrative Examples Microwork refers to the breaking down of larger projects into small (micro) components such as data input or verification and distributing these components to virtual workers via the Internet (White, 2011). Aggregation platforms for microwork such as Amazon Mechanical Turk, Crowdflower and Jana are making it easier to distribute microtasks to virtual workers. Case studies of Somali refugees in Kenya demonstrate the potential of microwork as a viable livelihood opportunity for disadvantaged groups provided they have access to mobile phones and some basic literacy, numeracy and computer skills (White, 2011). Subsequent to the Kenya Open Data portal launch, it has been discovered that approximately 30% of schools had inaccurate location data. The World Bank Institute’s Innovation Practice saw this as an opportunity to innovate through creating a crowdsourcing solution to updating the information and improving overall data quality. This crowdsourcing tool is currently entering into a pilot phase where it will draw upon citizen input via an electronic portal that enables them to report on and change location information for the schools they are aware of. This beta-stage crowdsourcing tool also includes a verification system to avoid false reporting and improve local level data quality. 29
6.5. Enhance Access to E-Services and Open Data via Mobile Phones A legitimate concern with the move to providing government services and information electronically is the possibility of exacerbating inequities for citizens with constrained Internet access of constrained information capabilities that would allow them to make use of it. This is certainly relevant in the context of Moldova as the country still has low Internet usage rates among some social segments. Moldova’s decision to work with the World Bank in instituting a mobile delivery system for electronic services via M-Cloud could be an important means of enhancing access for greater numbers of citizens. Specifically, it is recommended that Moldova: (a) integrate the mobile delivery system seamlessly with the Open Government and Open Data strategies to ensure timely access to government services and datasets via mobile phone technology; and (2) prioritize data-driven applications for mobile phones and ability to participate in consultation platforms using a mobile. 6.6. Institute a Rapid Diagnostic and Criteria to Assess Progress on Open Government and Open Data Strategies and plans guide action, allowing for some measure of progress towards Open Government and Open Data in terms of specific deliverables. However, these tools are not always as useful in continually assessing the state of the enabling environment, or ecosystem, that is essential for Open Government and Open Data to flourish. Utilizing an established diagnostic framework would provide a common language to discuss progress, challenges and future priorities in Open Government and Open Data with various societal stakeholders. Specifically, it is recommended that Moldova: (a) adopt a diagnostic framework for use at regular intervals to assess the enabling environment for Open Data and Open Government, tracking the evolution of the initiatives over time; and (b) collaborate with civil society and the private sector to determine success metrics to assess the impact of Open Data and Open Government. Illustrative Examples One such framework could be Gartner’s Open Government Data Maturity Model, which identifies initiatives as moving along a development continuum from less to greater maturity in five stages: casual, transparent, participatory, collaborative and engaged (Gartner, 2010). Progress through the stages could be assessed by performance in various indicators adapted from the model including: Value Focus, Leadership, Institutions, Legal, Human Resources, Enterprise Architecture, Security, Information Access, Standards, Metadata, Services, Infrastructure, Infrastructure, Civic Engagement and Analytics. 6.7. Support Building Private Sector Capability to Enhance ‘Re-Use’ of Open Data In many Open Data initiatives, the private sector has become an important partner in catalyzing use and re-use of public sector information. The release of Open Data has, in many cases, sparked the formation of entirely new businesses repurposing government data for social and commercial use. In Moldova, there has already been substantial collaboration between the government and ICT companies, such as the multi-year partnership with the Moldovan Association of Private ICT Companies (ATIC) to provide the venue of the annual Moldova ICT Summit held yearly sense 2010 as a forum for dialogue around “trends and challenges facing the ICT industry” (Moldova ICT Summit, 2012). This type of collaboration should be continued and strengthened.
Specifically, it is recommended that Moldova: (a) design monetary and non-monetary incentives that facilitate development of goods and services based on publicly accessible data; (b) engage the private sector to identify priority datasets with high-value for commercial use; and (c) ensure private sector access to M-Cloud infrastructure. Illustrative Example The UK has established the Open Data Institute, to bring together private sector and academic institutions to work with the government on innovation, commercialization and web standards to support the Open Data Agenda. 6.8. Enhance Public Awareness By Targeting Youth as ‘Early Adopters’ for Open Data and Open Government Moldova has made overtures to inform the general public about Open Data and Open Government such as through the e-Government Center’s launch of an information campaign in February 2012, featuring educational spots broadcast via video, radio and the web. The eGC also uses social media (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) and print media to inform the public about its activities. However, despite this information dissemination, public awareness and understanding of Open Data and Open Government remains low, particularly in rural areas. Youth should be a key ally for generating demand for Open Data and Open Government, as they are more likely technologically savvy, skeptical of established norms and rules and will be prospective future leaders in government, civil society and the private sector. However, while youth are targeted through general communications efforts, the intentionality and specificity of engaging with this group could be enhanced. Specifically, it is recommended that Moldova: (a) introduce Open Data and Open Government topics into civic education coursework in the national education curriculum; (b) devise practicums in partnership with public schools for students to clean datasets, develop data-driven applications or create visualizations contributing to their coursework; and (c) expand the eGC’s piloted internship program to bring in more youth from secondary schools and universities to work on technical, policy or communications issues pertaining to Open Data and Open Government. 6.9. Cultivate Civil Society Engagement with Open Data and Open Government Aside from a small number of civil society representatives involved in the National Participation Council, the Moldova Community of Open Data Development Moldova or in a few key think tanks, most CSOs have limited knowledge of Open Data and Open Government and even less appreciation for how it is relevant to what they do. Existing events to stimulate demand such as Hackathons and TechCamps have been more successful in attracting hackers and technologists, rather than civil society representatives. At present, the events tend to be more data and technology driven, rather than issue driven, which may deter CSOs from participating. More broadly, there are few incentives currently in place for CSOs to take an interest in using or reusing open data, which is problematic due to the need to generate infomediaries able to help the public make sense of this information. Donors typically haven’t been requiring this type of reporting from their grantees and CSOs often have limited staff comfortable with technology and data management, as they are unable to compete with the private sector to recruit technology specialists. Specifically, it is recommended that Moldova: (a) increase the visibility of CSO engagement with Open Data through formalizing the affiliation of the Moldova Community of Open Data Development under the auspices with the National Participation Council; (b) develop mixed thematic groups of researchers and experts to monitor progress on Open Data and Open Government as part of the National Participation Council; (c) work with major donors granting funds to CSOs in Moldova to provide incentives, such as project funding or requiring data-driven monitoring and evaluation, for them to use Open Data and be involved in Open Government; (d) either develop specially designed parallel tracks for CSOs in Hackathon and TechCamp events, or design and pilot new Open Data events for CSOs targeted to particular issue areas and specific problems to be solved by data; and (e) introduce competitions and 31
awards not only for the development of data-driven applications, but also for the most innovative use of apps or underlying data for advocacy, awareness raising or implementation of development projects.
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