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Step Up Facilitates Agency Readiness Assessment

(This post was written by Open Data Task Force and originally appeared in http://data.gov.ph/news/open-data-stocktake-workshop).  

Following our recent collaboration for the Enhancing Citizen Engagement with Open Government Data (EnCitE-OGD) project, the Open Data Task Force and Step Up Consulting Services again worked together to organize the Open Data Stocktake Workshop. Held from March 10-11, 2015, the workshop introduced government agency representatives to a matrix designed to evaluate agency readiness for open data. The tool—called the Benchmark on Readiness for Open Agency Data (BROAD)—was developed by Step Up Consulting as a standard for assessing the open data capacities and practices of agencies. Using the BROAD tool, a total of 63 participants—representing 23 government agencies—rated their agencies’ readiness to implement open data and integrate it in their activities.


The workshop was conducted over two days, catering to different sets of agencies. The program began with welcome remarks from Undersecretary Bon Moya of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). He updated the attendees on the Task Force’s 2014 milestones, including legislative advancements and a DBM-specific skills training session. He also discussed the results of the recent Open Data Barometer, which identified areas of improvement for the Philippines. His remarks were followed by a short presentation from Shita Laksmi of the Southeast Asia Technology and Transparency Initiative (SEATTI), which provided funding support for the workshop. She gave an overview of SEATTI’s work in various countries, emphasizing issues such as election monitoring, social accountability, and public service delivery. Overall, SEATTI’s goal is to build linkages with partners and create a supportive ecosystem that contributes toward public sector transparency and accountability.


In support of this commitment, SEATTI awarded Step Up Consulting with a research grant for a project called “From Motivation to Use: Stakeholder Interests and Initial Results of the Philippine Open Data Portal.” The BROAD tool was developed as part of this project. During the Stocktake Workshop, Michael Cañares of Step Up Consulting gave an in-depth introduction to the tool, which breaks down agency readiness into 8 elements and 12 indicators.

Elements Corresponding indicator/s
Element 1: Leadership Indicator 1: Level of commitment of agency leaders to institutionalize open data within the agency
Element 2: Strategic/Policy Framework Indicator 2: Presence of whole-of-agency strategy/policy regarding open data
Element 3: Data Management Systems Indicator 3: Comprehensiveness of information on data assets and requirements
Indicator 4: Availability of a clearly-defined technical standards for data publication
Indicator 5: Adequacy of data release practices
Element 4: Organizational Structure Indicator 6: Functionality of a team, unit, or working group on open data
Element 5: User Engagement Practices Indicator 7: Extent of agency efforts in engaging both internal and external users of open agency data
Indicator 8: Responsiveness of agency to user request or demand for open agency data
Element 6: Knowledge and Skills Indicator 9: Level of knowledge and understanding of open data at all levels in the organization
Indicator 10: Level of technical knowledge and skills of open data unit or team in the agency regarding open data and data management
Element 7: Financing and Budget Indicator 11: Amount of financial allocation for open data activities and initiatives
Element 8: Technological Infrastructure Indicator 12: Adequacy of technology to implement open data initiatives

In discussing BROAD, Cañares stressed that it is a living document—that it could change based on suggestions from the agencies themselves, the end users of the tool. He and Outreach Lead Ivygail Ong described it as “a conversation between the Open Data Task Force and the agencies concerned.” The representatives responded by seeking clarifications about the tool and open data in general. One participant asked whether there is a passing score for BROAD (none; the intention is to assess weak points and determine levels of support), while others raised concerns about post-administration continuity and current practices regarding the selling of government data. Such dialogue is crucial to the evolution and advancement of open data. While some answers may not yet be clear, the mere opening of these topics allows for discussion and the generation of new ideas.


In the afternoon, the attendees were given time to rate their agencies on each of the 12 indicators using a 0-4 scale. Afterward, they shared their scores with the group and explained their justifications for each. The wide range of scores testifies to the variety of their stories, owing to such factors as agency size and budget. One important finding is that larger agencies usually experience more difficulty, since they would need to train more people and stretch an already strained budget. Another is the existence of a strong correlation between the agencies’ Indicator 1 scores and the rest of their ratings. This suggests that, among the elements, Leadership has the greatest impact on outcome.


The workshop ended with a few remarks from Ong, who thanked the participants for their input and assured them that the Task Force will conduct follow-up coordination within the next weeks. She also asked them for recommendations on future activities. The attendees responded with specific requests, such as assistance in crafting an internal policy for open data and skills training sessions.

Just as these trainings need to be conducted on a per-agency basis, so do data exchange and coordination have to be adjusted according to each agency’s situation. The results of the Stocktake Workshop establish that agencies have varying levels of open data readiness, and thus need different types of support. Building on these findings, the Task Force will continue to work together with agencies to liberate more data and lay down practices that will contribute to government transparency for years to come.


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