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The Government of Canada launched the Action Plan on Open Government 2.0 on November 6, 2014. The Action Plan specifies ways the federal government is working towards creating a more open and transparent government and maximizing the sharing of government information and data. Open Government Action Plan 2.0 consists of 12 commitments, including the foundational commitment, the Directive on Open Government, which will set direction for all activities over the next two years and beyond.
Canada’s first Action Plan on Open Government was launched at the 2012 Open Government Partnership (OGP) Annual Summit in Brazil. Over the last two years, significant progress has been made on a broad range of initiatives to increase access to Open Data, Open Information, and Open Dialogue. This has established a strong foundation on which future open government activities can be built, including new government-wide policy on the release of open data and information, and modern, state-of-the-art platforms to enable public access to government information and engagement opportunities. Key accomplishments include:
- Next-Generation Open Data: The Government of Canada’s next-generation open data portal (data.gc.ca) was launched in June 2013. This new discovery portal was built based on broad public consultations with users to define new capabilities, and enhancements were made to expand the availability of high-value data, improve data integrity, enrich the usability of the site, facilitate intuitive discovery of data, and increase user engagement.
- Modernization of Access to Information (ATI) Services: Enhanced online services were launched in 2013 to enable Canadians to search completed ATI requests across all federal departments through a single search interface, and to submit new Access to Information requests via the Web.
- Open Government License (OGL): In 2013, the Government of Canada issued a new open government license for all levels of government in order to remove barriers to the reuse of published government data and information regardless of origin. This license has been adopted not only by the Government of Canada, but also by several provincial governments and municipalities across the country.
- Canada.ca: Late last year, the federal government introduced its new government-wide web portal at Canada.ca that provides intuitive navigation features to help Canadians find the information they need more quickly and easily. The portal enables users to quickly complete tasks, and features government-wide search capabilities, better use of social media, and optimized content for mobile devices.
- Canadian Open Data Experience (CODE): In February 2014, the Government of Canada held the largest competitive open data hackathon in Canadian history, bringing together over 900 developers, students, and open data enthusiasts from across Canada to develop over 100 innovative applications using federal data.
The Directive on Open Government
- The Directive on Open Government provides guidance on when and how to release Government of Canada data and information of business value. The new Directive on Open Government ensures a consistent approach to releasing information, and applies to more than 100 federal departments and agencies.
- Other than valid exceptions for privacy, security, and confidentiality, Government of Canada data is to be open by default. Eligible data and information will be released in standardized, open formats, free of charge:
- The Directive will be implemented over a five-year period to ensure time for departments to meet the requirements. It is a key commitment of the Government of Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government, and was issued on October 9, 2014
Open Data Commitments
Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government 2.0 includes four specific commitments to unlock the economic potential of open data:
1) Open Data Canada
Open Data Canada is intended to harmonize and integrate the diverse range of open data activities happening at all levels of government across Canada, facilitating a “no wrong door” approach to Open Government data, regardless of which Canadian jurisdiction owns it – federal, provincial/territorial, or municipal.
2) Open Data Exchange (ODX)
The Government of Canada is investing $3 million over three years to launch a new institute focused on open data: the Open Data Exchange, or “ODX.” Through ODX, Canadians will be able to see the measurable economic benefits of open data in the form of job creation, investment in data-driven companies, and the establishment of a national hub for the commercialization of open data.
3) Open Data for Development (OD4D)
The OD4D initiative aims to support the global and regional efforts of governments, civil society organizations, and entrepreneurs harnessing Open Data to achieve development outcomes, and enrich the international sharing of open data solutions and best practices. This includes helping to build the capacity of open data initiatives in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia, by supporting developing countries as they plan and execute open data initiatives, and create solution-driving networks to bring about social and economic innovation.
4) Open Data Core Commitment
Canada is focused on ensuring high-quality open data services for Canadians by planning a series of projects, including the second Canadian Open Data Experience (CODE2) and the new Open Government Portal, that drive government-wide progress on open data and prioritize easy access to high-value federal data.
Open Information Commitments
Canada’s new Action Plan on Open Government places a strong emphasis on providing Canadians with access to open information. Canada will also work to improve Canadians’ skills as consumers of digital data and information. The six commitments to advance Open Information include:
1) Open Science
The Government of Canada will maximize access to federally-funded scientific research to encourage greater collaboration and engagement with the scientific community, the private sector, and the public.
2) Mandatory Reporting on Extractives
Mandatory reporting standards will increase Canadians’ awareness about how Canadian extractive companies’ revenues are spent, which supports transparency and social responsibility, and helps to combat corruption.
3) Open Contracting
The Government of Canada will coordinate single-window access to a broad range of open contracting information from across federal departments. By improving upon the disclosure of contracting data, the Government of Canada will strengthen the openness and transparency of its procurement processes and increase Canadians’ knowledge of how their tax dollars are being spent.
4) Open Information on Budgets and Expenditures
The Government of Canada will publish expanded information and data on federal spending to help Canadians understand, and hold government accountable for, the use of public monies.
5) Digital Literacy
The Government of Canada will support the development of tools, training resources, and other initiatives to help Canadians acquire the essential skills needed to access, understand, and use digital information and new technologies.
6) Open Government Portal
The Government of Canada will provide robust information management and next-generation search and discovery services on the Open Government portal that will significantly improve the sharing of government information in support of transparency and accountability
Open Dialogue Commitment
As part of Canada’s new Action Plan on Open Government 2.0, the Government of Canada’s open dialogue activities will focus on creating an environment that encourages and enables departments and agencies to regularly consult with Canadian citizens and civil society organizations.
The Government of Canada will provide direction, tools, and resources to enable federal departments and agencies to consult more broadly with citizens and civil society in support of the development and delivery of government policies and programs, through launching a renewed Consulting Canadians site to facilitate easier access to information on federal consultation activities for citizens, as well as a new government-wide consultation portal to promote opportunities for public participation, host online consultations, and share findings from completed consultations.
The government will also develop a set of principles and procedures to guide consultation processes in order to increase the consistency and effectiveness of public consultations across government.