Citizens’ Participatory Competence


Does the government publish data and information in a way that strengthens citizens’ capacity to hold the government accountable?

The government publishes data and information in a comprehensive, timely and user-friendly way.
The government publishes data and information, making it easy for citizens to be informed and to hold the government accountable.

Statistical data is easily available for free online and lots of public data is made publicly available on the internet. Many ministries and agencies help to interpret raw data and publish summaries to make the key aspects of the data more easily accessible for citizens, without providing too much spin. Most governmental bodies also publish annual reports, which cover financial statements, policy goals and achievements, and risk assessments.

In addition, the annual report from the general auditor, the Transparency Act, weekly parliamentary questions and a lively media landscape ensure that information about government activities (or the lack of activity) is made public.
The United Kingdom is highly committed to its open government agenda. It is a founding member of the Open Government Partnership, which since its beginning in 2011 has become a major global advocate for citizens’ free access to government data. Parliament, the government and the civil service reliably and timely publish all not-restricted documents on their websites.

The UK government has a long history of publishing official statistics, and since 2007 this has been governed by the Statistics and Registration Service Act. The act created the UK Statistics Authority, a non-ministerial department, with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) as an executive agency within the department (ONS previously reported into HMT). The act also created the Office for Statistics Regulation, which sets the Code of Practice for Official Statistics and oversees the accreditation of “National Statistics.” Beyond the official statistical system, the government publishes a wide array of data and is a world leader in open data. The UK government publishes an extensive array of transparency data (e.g., senior public servants’ salaries, workforce data, special adviser pay, and details of ministerial and senior officials’ meetings) – over 9,000 items on the government website ( are categorized as “transparency data” and over 10,000 FOI requests have been published. The government also has a dedicated data portal (, which makes publicly accessible over 47,000 datasets published by the UK government and other public authorities. Furthermore, the United Kingdom alongside Canada ranked first out of 30 governments in the latest Open Data Barometer (2016 – 2017) and in the OECD’s latest OURdata index (2017) the United Kingdom ranked 4th out of 31 countries.

Committee and working group meetings are streamed via a range of online platforms (e.g., YouTube and FacebookLive). Furthermore, the government provides an efficient online search-engine for government documents ( Meanwhile, the bi-annual Open Government Action Plans, which set goals and standards for open government in the United Kingdom, are negotiated in cooperation with the UK Open Government Network (OGN), a coalition of active citizens and civil society organizations.
All governmental agencies have websites where a lot of information is made publicly available. When new policy initiatives are suggested or approved, the responsible ministers will usually hold press conferences allowing the media – print, online and TV – to inform citizens and debate the proposals. TV2’s dedicated news program, TV2 News, is very good at covering new policy events, and broadcasts several programs during the week in which well-informed journalists and experts debate the news. Important parliamentary debates are covered by the media and sometimes directly broadcast by TV channels. Furthermore, Denmark has the “access to public administration files act” of 1985, which replaced the Public Records Act of 1970.
Jørgen Grønnegård Christensen og Jørgen Elklit (red.), Det Demokratiske System. 4. udgave. Hans Reitzels Forlag, 2016.

According to the Statistics Act (280/2004), there are four official statistical authorities in Finland.
Statistics Finland, the Natural Resources Institute Finland, the National Institute for Health and Welfare, and Finnish Customs. Each authority is mandated to collect data. In addition, there are a number of other authorities that produce official statistical materials. Statistical figures are published by Official Statistics of Finland, which publishes nearly 300 statistical datasets covering 26 different topics. The basic data of the Official Statistics of Finland is publicly available on the internet, free of charge.

In principle, the government of Finland has tried to publish information actively on the COVID-19 pandemic. It has disseminated up-to-date information on infection rates and their temporal development, the local distribution of infections, details on specific outbreaks, and the indicators upon which it bases its risk assessments. The underlying data has been communicated in plain language. It has published information on its crisis management policies, and in all of its communication, stressed the scientific basis for its coronavirus actions. Furthermore, the government has encouraged citizens to pay attention to updates on its website and the website of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), both of which provide comprehensive and up-to-date information on issues related to the pandemic. The government website contains government decisions, information produced by the ministries on the effects of the coronavirus on different administrative sectors, as well as topical material on the coronavirus produced by all government ministries (OECD 2020).

Other public authorities and research agencies have also actively produced information on the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. For example, the Helsinki Graduate School of Economics established an economic Situation Room, with the aim of supporting rapid decision-making during the coronavirus crisis. The Situation Room consists of leading economists from Helsinki GSE and the VATT Institute for Economic Research, as well as representatives of several public agencies.

However, in the spring of 2020, the leader of an economic expert group appointed by the government publicly complained that the government had not shared the assumptions used in epidemiological models to predict the spread of the virus. Only after extensive public pressure (Lahti, Wallgren, Kulmala 2020) did the government release this information. The affair concerned the R0 number used in statistical models, which is used to predict the way the virus will spread in the future. According to the critics, the government prevented independent epidemiological experts from forming their own assessments of the spread of the virus among the population.
Lahti, Leo & Wallgren, Thomas & Kulmala, Markku (2020): Laskentamallit eivät lähtökohtaisesti ole salassa pidettäviä [Stastistical Models are not by Definition Classified Information], Helsingin Sanomat 3.5.2020,

OECD, 2020. OEDC Survey on the STI Policy Response to Covid-19. Accessed 28.12. 2020., “Katsaus kansalliseen tilastotoimeen 2015,”
National Statistical Service,
The Slovenian government launched a new and unified open data government portal, OPSI (Odprti podatki Slovenije), in late 2016. Further upgraded in 2019 and 2021, the portal provides a central catalogue of all the records and databases of Slovenian public bodies, and an extensive range of datasets in machine-readable formats and with an Open Data license. Access to data is largely unrestricted and published in user-friendly formats.
Strictly speaking, given the extensive rules about public availability of government documents, the government does not have to actively publish material but rather simply ensure that it is available. Thus, withholding information that would be relevant to an assessment of the government’s performance would be difficult. Governmental web sites are updated regularly, and reports are available to the public at no charge. All material (reports, meeting minutes, contact information of public servants, future plans, press releases, transcripts) is available online. This openness on the part of the government was most evident during the pandemic, when a great deal of data and information about various aspects of pandemic policy was made available to the public.
The government and its institutions – in particular the Federal Statistical Office – pursue a highly user-friendly policy of internet-based access to information. Any citizen interested in public policy and having access to the internet will find a large body of qualitative and quantitative data. The transparency act (Bundesgesetz über das Öffentlichkeitsprinzip der Verwaltung, BGÖ) ensures full access to public documents apart from classified information.

The official information bulletin is the most important source of information for citizens to make decisions in direct-democratic votes. Overall, government information policy can be considered comprehensive and enables citizens to fully inform themselves about most aspects of the political system and its policymaking.

However, as the case in 2019 of the Supreme Court overturning the outcome of a popular vote makes clear, this information policy is not flawless and is subject to close scrutiny in a direct democracy. The mistakes made by the Federal Council in delivering erroneous information regarding a vote on the taxation of couples compelled the Court to annul the referendum.
In addition to data on the activities of government, the U.S. government publishes a vast amount of social, economic and other data. All major departments and agencies collect and publish important series of relevant data. The Budget of the United States Government describes all major programs, their funding and levels of activity, and each agency publishes a substantial annual report describing its operations and various measures of performance and outcomes.

The Trump administration discontinued the publication of various data series on matters that challenged administration priorities, ranging from climate change to mental health. Its actions were described as a “war on data.” The administration often cited national security as an argument for withholding information from the public or Congress.

President Biden repudiated the Trumps administration’s approach by calling for improved access to data. A signed memorandum states that agencies should “ensure governmental and non-governmental researchers can use Federal data to assess and evaluate the effectiveness and equitable delivery of policies and to suggest improvements.”
The government most of the time publishes data and information in a comprehensive, timely and user-friendly way.
The government of Canada has two offices, the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) and the Office of the Auditor General (OAG), whose mandate is to provide independent analysis on government finances and policies. The PBO is charged with providing impartial information on the state of government finances and its estimates of trends in the Canadian economy. On request, the PBO estimates the cost of any proposal under parliamentary consideration. During the 2019 federal election, the PBO carried out a requested evaluation of the cost of programs contained in the political parties’ campaign platforms. The OAG provides independent information and expert advice on government programs and activities, and the management of its Crown corporations. Both offices serve parliament, but – since reports usually become public information – they provide ample and objective evidence on the finances and performance of government policies and institutions. The reports are made available online and are often followed with media attention. The quality of information contained in the reports, however, depends heavily on the data obtained by the offices. Government departments and agencies release information in the form of studies and data on their websites, which allows citizens to hold them accountable. Most of this information is available in both official languages in user friendly formats, including for blind people.

In addition, Canada has a large number of non-governmental think tanks, and policy and research institutes that provide additional information, and critique, on a range of policy areas, including social policy, political strategy, economics, technology, industry, business and national defense.
In line with the overall e-government approach, all public institutions maintain extensive web resources for public use. There have been attempts to harmonize the website architecture of ministries and agencies, but these efforts have only succeeded to a limited extent. As a result, the user-friendliness of web resources varies across institutions. Available information is generally extensive and up to date, but often too detailed and sophisticated for citizens’ use; retrospective data (both statistics and legal norms) are not always available. Under the current government, journalists have discovered in several cases (e.g., concerning 5G licenses and the investigation into the provision of state aid to Porto Franco) that government officials have classified documents subjectively and without sound reason.
The Reuse of Information Act (“Informationsweiterverwendungsgesetz”), which converted the first EU directive into national law, has been in effect since 2006. When the European directive was revised, the Bundestag adopted a newer version of the law in May 2015 but has not changed it substantially since. Overall, the legislation requires that public sector information on social, economic, geographic, climate, tourism, business, patent and education issues be made available to private information suppliers and the general public.
In international comparison, Germany scored 58 out of 100 points in the Open Data Barometer and thus is not one of the leading countries in this field (Word Wide Web Foundation 2017). The EU Commission’s “Open Data Maturity Report” ranks Germany slightly above the EU average.
Following up on its first National Action Plan on Open Data in 2014, the federal government published a second National Action Plan in September 2019. It also published a comprehensive data strategy in early 2021 (Bundesregierung 2021).

In addition to these legal obligations, each federal and state government has an office of statistics that provide information for the public. These offices provide a wealth of high-quality data on a broad spectrum of issues that help citizens assess their country’s performance on a variety of indicators. These statistical offices make their data public by publishing comprehensive reports authored by experts and by publishing readable concise press releases that are frequently cited by the media. Statistical offices in Germany enjoy a high degree of political independence and have a reputation for providing undistorted data.
Bundesregierung (2021): Datenstrategie der Bundesregierung. Eine Innovationsstrategie für gesellschaftlichen Fortschritt und nachhaltiges Wachstum, Berlin (accessed 13 February) (2021): Open Data Maturity Report 2021, (accessed 13 February)

World Wide Web Foundation (2018): Open Data Barometer - Leaders Edition. Washington DC: World Wide Web Foundation. (accessed 13 February)
E-government issues, particularly services aimed at making public information available to citizens in a secure and timely manner, have been on the government agenda since the 2000s. Current efforts are based on the Basic Plan for the Advancement of Utilizing Public and Private Sector Data and the Policy for Open Data, both released in May 2017. The various branches of government make an overwhelming number of statistics, data and reports available, with coordinated access through sites like e-Gov, and e-Stat.

However, ensuring transparency, usability and security remains an ongoing challenge. In late 2018, it was revealed that the Monthly Labor Survey had used an improper methodology for collecting data since 2004, leading to an overestimation of wage growth. Following this exposure, weaknesses in other government statistical measures also became apparent. In a February 2019 survey, 67% of the population indicated that this incident had eroded their trust in government statistics.
Government of Japan, Digital Government in Japan, January 2018,

English-language access points to major sites:,,

61% think Abe inadequately handles labor survey scandal, The Asahi Shimbun, 19 February 2019,
Luxembourgish government administrations and departments are required to publish their documents online, either on their own websites or on the Luxembourgish data platform (in French and English). This procedure reflects a policy of openness to citizens (be they natural or legal persons) with regards to the documents held by government administrations and departments, communes, public sector establishments, legal persons providing public services, the Chamber of Deputies, the Council of State, the Ombudsman, the Court of Auditors and professional chambers. All such documents are provided free of charge, although a small fee may be requested if copies are issued.

This right does not apply to documents pertaining to foreign relations, Luxembourg national security or public order, the safety of persons or their right to privacy, or financial data such as corporate tax breaks (“rulings”).

In most cases, information is available in French, German and English. However, much of the data is provided only in French, which is not easy to understand for Germanophone citizens. Data in Luxembourgish are made available more and more frequently. Nevertheless, journalists and the public often have difficulties in understanding and evaluating the published data.
“La plateforme des données luxembourgeoises.” Le Gouvernement du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg. Accessed 14 January 2022.

Statistics portal: Accessed 14 January 2022.

Statistikportal des Großherzogtums Luxemburg: Accessed 14 January 2022.
New Zealand
In global comparison, New Zealand performs relatively well when it comes to publishing data and information as a means to strengthening vertical accountability mechanisms. In the 2018 Open Government Index, published by the Open Knowledge Foundation, New Zealand is ranked 8th out of 94 countries. New Zealand enjoys even higher rankings in the 2019 Open Budget Index (sharing the top ranking) and the 2017 Open Data Barometer, released by the World Wide Web Foundation (sharing 7th place). New Zealand’s position is relatively lower in the 2019 OECD OURdata Index on Open Government Data (ranked 12th out of 32 countries); however, New Zealand’s score for ensuring public sector data availability and accessibility is still higher than the OECD average. In 2016, the State Services Commission formed a stakeholder advisory group to work with the government on New Zealand’s Open Government Partnership processes. In addition, the government’s administrative data, along with census data, has been integrated into the Integrated Data Infrastructure, which researchers can access by application. Additional data sets, co-designed with indigenous peoples have been developed, focusing on capabilities rather than deficits. This data is also publicly available on request.
International Budget Partnership (2019) Open Budget Index.

OECD (2020) OECD Open, Useful and Re-usable data (OURdata) Index: 2019.

Open Knowledge Foundation (2018) 2018 Open Government Index.

World Wide Web Foundation (2017) Open Data Barometer.
South Korea
Korea ranks first among OECD countries on the OECD’s OUR Data Index, which examines the issue of open, usable and reusable government data. A government information portal has been introduced to provide access to government data and information. However, some institutions have proved uncooperative in providing access to information requested by members of the public, making the government less accountable. The government seems particularly reluctant to share detailed spending information. Thus, the 2017 Open Data Barometer gives Korea 90 out of 100 points for having a detailed government budget, but only five points with regard to publishing detailed data on government spending.
OECD, Government at a Glance 2017 Database, OUR Data Index
The Government of Republic of Korea. 2017. “100 Policy Tasks: Five-year Plan of the Moon Jae-in Administration.” Korean Culture and Information Service: Seoul.
“Government at a Glance 2021 – Country Fact Sheet – Korea.” OECD. Accessed January 18, 2022.
Open Government Partnership. “Republic of Korea Action Plan 2021-2023,” September 22, 2021.
Much government data and information is published online and is readily accessible. Through its initiative, the government has an express commitment to improving the availability and use of government administrative data. That said, it is also the case that there is much information not made available. Ostensibly, this is for reasons such as national security and citizen privacy/confidentiality, but there is little doubt that political factors also play a role.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics, a statutory government agency, provides a considerable and comprehensive amount of data on economic and social conditions in the country, mostly derived from the census conducted every five years and various additional surveys.
In 2011, Belgium launched an open data platform with the aim of making government information readily available to citizens; as of late 2021, this platform (Data.Gov.Be) was making more than 13,000 databases accessible, across a broad span of policy sectors. In general, Belgium is comparable to the average European country in terms of open data policy. However, perhaps due to a lack of communication, Belgium continues to lag behind its European counterparts in terms of the use and impact of open data initiatives.
Belgium is ranked 22nd out of 115 countries in the Open Data Barometer Global Report Fourth Edition (2016) and 22nd out of 94 countries in the Global Open Data Index 2016/2017. The Global Open Data Index highlights Belgium’s poor performance regarding the availability of information on government spending, land ownership, election results, draft legislation and national laws.
As a response to the lack of information, Transparencia, a private platform, was created in 2016 with the aim of helping citizens access information held by the government.

Throughout the crisis, the government’s Sciensano (the Belgian equivalent of the CDC in the United States) has published comprehensive data updated on a daily basis, and made data available in a user-friendly way (a PDF report with the main graphs and figures, plus regular press conferences). The public can access detailed information on the number of cases, deaths, hospital occupation rates and so on. This has been true for each region and province, broken down by age group and gender. Epidemiological studies performed by Sciensano are also available. However, following a tradition of secrecy regarding official data, Sciensano held on to its raw data and initially refused to share it even with specialized academics. The ones who were eventually appointed to the government’s response advisory groups eventually obtained it, but only under strict confidentiality conditions, which prevented them from sharing the data with specialized university research groups that could have detected valuable patterns.

Information on the measures taken, the availability of tests and the way contract tracing is performed, as well as more practical information on how and when to wear a mask, for example, is also provided to the citizens on a dedicated website. All this contributed to the population’s quite broad compliance with the measures taken by the government.

Private substitute:


information on the measures and others:

Scientists complain about the difficulty to access data:

Coronavirus-dedicated website:
In general terms, the level of digitalization with regard to public information (e.g., commission reports, draft laws, and information on line ministries and government activities) is quite high. Since the implementation of the transparency law of 2008 (Ley de Transparencia), data about the personnel structure and expenditure of public institutions is also publicly accessible. In addition, with the enactment of Law 21,180 on the Digital Transformation of the State (Ley de Transformación Digital del Estado) in 2019, many administrative processes and bureaucratic procedures have been successfully digitalized. Though some delays in publishing relevant information may occur, and – considering the relatively high educational gap – information and data is not always published in a comprehensive way.
On the Digital Government-Initiative,, last accessed: 13 January 2022.
Croatia began in mid-2011 its formal participation in the Open Government Partnership (OGP), as a voluntary international initiative that aims to secure commitments from governments to their citizenry to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. A special council known as the Council for the Open Government Partnership Initiative of the government was established as a centralized hub for communication between implementing and monitoring stakeholders. The OGP Council is responsible for the coordination of Croatia’s national action plan with expert and administrative support provided by the Government Office for Cooperation with NGOs. The implementation responsibilities are spread among a large group of government institutions, including the parliament. In 2015, the Open Data Portal of Croatia was established which tried to offer in a single place all data related to public administration and became an integral part of the e-citizens project. Some key institutions that provide publicly accessible data such as the State Audit Office and the Croatian Bureau of Statistics do so in a comprehensive, timely and user-friendly way.
The bureaucratic and political structure of the country overall provides satisfactory information. It is possible to get full access to information directly or through specialized citizens groups, and several media outlets provide critical analyses of governmental action. Public institutions such as the parliament, the Court of Accounts, and various independent authorities or committees not only facilitate access to information, but also offer a critical analysis of government action.
However, the political system, both at the local or national level, offers few instruments to help citizens monitor and oversee their administrative and political authorities. The main issue remains the incapacity of individuals to deal with the massive flows of information provided by public bodies. At the local level, the “information” provided by the ruling party or coalition tends to be mere window-dressing or propaganda in support of the adopted or proposed policy.
Before the onset of the Greek economic crisis, there was a problem with reporting statistical and other data regarding government revenue and expenses as well as regarding personnel in the Greek public sector.

The situation has exceptionally improved since then. Barring data on defense and security, which are considered classified, all data produced by the revamped official statistical authority of Greece (Helstat) is accessible. This data is compiled and published according to Eurostat’s requirements. Reliable data is also available on public employment, including type of work contract and other information, via a separate website maintained by the Ministry of Administrative Reconstruction (Apografi). Moreover, since 2010, thanks to a law on the issue of transparency, all administrative acts issued by the central, regional and local authorities and other public bodies (the so-called Diavgeia system) have been available online. Though this system is not very user-friendly, accessing the data is possible.

The government that took power in July 2019 established the Ministry of Digital Governance and also founded the new Independent Authority on Transparency (the EAD). In 2020–2021, the new ministry proceeded to digitalize many services offered to citizens and businesses on internet platforms. Particularly during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic, the volume of data made available to the public through digital sources increased. Furthermore, before any bill of law is submitted to parliament, there is a two-week period during which the text of the bill is uploaded onto the website of the competent ministry for citizens to comment on it. That requirement was not always fulfilled before 2019. However, the same government passed new legislation in August 2019 (Law 4624/2019) that expanded the range of restrictions to access official information beyond the restrictions already provided by the European Union’s relevant regulation (the GDPR). Nevertheless, overall, all the above measures have over time increased the capacity of citizens to hold the government to account. For instance, nowadays, it is possible for citizens to find out the names of anyone newly appointed to a government or administrative body, as well as details on appointments and on any item of government expenditure.
The three platforms, cited in the above response, through which one can access data and information are the following: and
The government – through governmental departments and institutions such as the Central Statistics Office (CSO), and the Auditor and Controller General – publishes data and information in a comprehensive, timely and user-friendly way. Freedom of information helps this openness, but has sometimes been criticized by journalists in recent years because of allegedly extensive redaction by ministries and state bodies.
In recent years, the government has expanded its efforts with regard to policy transparency. In 2011, Israel joined the Open Government Partnership and, in 2016, the government announced the launch of a program designed to open all governmental databases to public access. This step is part of an ongoing policy of increasing transparency by expanding the authority of and funding for the Governmental Unit for Freedom of Information.

Most (if not all) governmental authorities have an official website and social media presence, some of which are available in languages other than Hebrew (e.g., English and Arabic). The websites offer a wide range of services, including information services (like press releases, law drafts for public commentary and policy explanations). One important example of this is the official website of the Ministry of Finance, which publishes the state budget (or more accurately its highlights) in a readable and keyword-searchable PDF format. The website also offers tools to observe changes in the budget and to compare it with the budgets from previous years.

The Knesset has a comprehensive website, offering the option to download all of the Knesset’s press releases, general assembly and various committee protocols (although excluding protocols from confidential committees, such as the Committee for Foreign Affairs and National Security Matters), draft and enacted laws, and even research papers that were handed to the various committees. The Knesset’s committee and general assembly meetings are usually recorded and made available to watch online. The Knesset also operates the National Legislation Database, which aims to make all legislation and legislative processes digitally accessible to the public.
Bender, Eric. “The Transparency Committee Headed by MK Shaffir Shall Be Cancelled in the Next Knesset.” In Ma’ariv website.. April 18th, 2019. (Hebrew)

Government ICT Authority, “Open Government Action Plan for 2018-2019”:

Liel, Dafna. “MK Shaffir’s Transparency Committee Will Be Cancelled?.” In Mako website.. April 18th, 2019. (Hebrew)

Transparency International, “Corruption Perceptions Index 2018”:

Tamar Hermann, “Democracy in Crisis? Israeli Survey Respondents Agree to Disagree”: 13.12.2018, Podcast,

“Transparency International – Israel”: (Hebrew)

Anna Ahronheim, “IDF comptroller to investigate army’s readiness,” JPost, 26.09.2018:
There are several main reporting mechanisms on the overall performance of the government and its institutions. First, every year the government presents to the parliament an annual performance report where overall performance and performance in the policy areas of individual ministries as well as thematic areas are reported. Second, the Lithuanian government publishes quarterly, semi-annual or annual reports on the implementation of annual performance priorities. Third, every year the institutions that manage appropriations from the state budget publish their annual performance reports on the implementation of strategic-performance plans (including budgetary programs) and the achievement of performance targets (i.e., outputs, outcomes and impacts). However, the National Audit Office found in its 2015 performance report that these government reports failed to include more than half of the outcome-level monitoring indicators whose targets were not achieved, and that information on unachieved outcomes was ambiguously reported. Also, reporting on the implementation of the 2015 priorities was incomplete, with less than half of all performance results presented by the government.

The scope of information presented in the annual performance reports of Lithuanian budgetary institutions is large, but they sometimes omit important information and lack a critical assessment of organizational performance. The Lithuanian government has committed to taking action to address the challenge of incomplete, selective and biased reporting.

An open-government data initiative is part of a national plan of information society development. The Ministry of Economy and Innovation launched the initiative during the 2008 to 2012 government term, when the potential of opening up government data was first recognized. Parts of the necessary infrastructure have been in place since implementation of the first EU directive on public sector information. For instance, the Information Society Development Committee created a preliminary open data portal ( where information on available datasets is published. The Ministry of Transport and Communications intends to spend around €4 million on the development of an advanced open data portal. In order to exploit the opportunities presented by government data, government ministries and agencies are encouraged to open up data to the public. Despite a recent increase in the scope of government data published online, Lithuanian authorities should pursue a more experimental approach to discover how data can add value to the public sector, to society and to the economy. The program of the Šimonytė government (which took office in late 2020) contains provisions on open government and the provision of greater quantities of government data to the general public. Legal steps to make this possible were taken in 2021.

Lithuania joined the multilateral Open Government Partnership initiative in 2011. In subsequent years, the Office of the Government developed action plans for improving open-government practices throughout the country (the fifth action plan was approved in 2021). During the review period, Lithuania signed the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents (2015) and the UN Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (2015). In 2016, the government approved three major initiatives to make public institutions more accountable to society, reduce corruption and increase transparency, while also increasing public engagement. However, implementation has been undermined by a lack of measurable targets and meaningful collaboration with civil society.
Valstybės kontrolė (2016). Programinio biudžeto sistema: strateginių veiklos planų sudarymas ir įgyvendinimo stebėsena, Nr. VA-P-60-2-17.
Ministries and public agencies (e.g., the National Statistics Institute, INE, and the Sociological Research Center, CIS) often publish data and information that enables citizens to hold the government accountable. The centralized online platform lists all ongoing legislative initiatives and consultations, thus facilitating citizen participation.

During the COVID-19 state of alarm, the national government’s service providing open access to data was suspended.

In October 2020, the government approved the Fourth Open Government Plan (2020 – 2024). The plan was jointly approved by the national, regional and local governments following a consultative process. The plan includes 110 initiatives and 529 activities; one of many aims is to create effective and transparent institutions that are accountable and guarantee public access to information. The Open Government Forum, composed of representatives of public administrations and civil society, has continued its operations, and in October 2021 delivered its recommendations for the reform of the transparency law.
Spanish Government (2020), Fourth Open Government Plan (2020-2024)

Gobierno Abierto de Navarra,
The Austrian government is not a “closed shop” – access to government data (e.g., provided by the government’s websites) is possible and the opposition’s right to information concerning significant developments is not disputed. However, this does not amount to the high level of open government that may be expected considering the promises given by consecutive governments. The proposed freedom of information act remains stuck in parliament and it appears likely that it will stay there for the foreseeable future.

Recent governments have made an effort to facilitate the provision of scientific micro-data. In 2020, the AUSSDA (Austrian Social Science Data Archive) was awarded the Core Trust Seal and thus certified as a “trustworthy data repository.” AUSSDA is a data infrastructure for the social science community in Austria, originally established in 2016, which offers a variety of research support services, primarily data archiving and help with data reuse.

The passing of a freedom of information act failed in 2021 (as it did in 2017), even though this reform had been a declared top priority by the ÖVP-Green government (or more precisely the junior coalition partner, the Greens). This latter episode showcased the institutional complexity of the Austrian system of government and the state’s veto power more specifically. As the bill would have required a two-thirds majority in both the Nationalrat and the Bundesrat, the states – which opposed the reform mainly because of the expected tremendous administrative costs – were able to prevent the bill from becoming law.
The Bulgarian government has adopted a policy of developing citizen access to government data through the establishment of an open data portal. As of late 2019, there were close to 10,000 datasets available, and constant updates take place. All datasets are downloadable in machine-ready format. The data portal provides citizens with a powerful tool for assessing government policies and holding the government accountable. Two major limitations remain, however. First, the supply of data, which would enable citizens to make a preliminary assessment of major government projects and plans, is relatively limited. Second, many datasets are difficult to interpret because of obscure and unclear methodologies.

The government response to the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated an improved access to basic government information, especially with regard to its provision of timely statistics. In addition, the government improved its efforts to communicate necessary public health information.

In 2021, the National Revenue Agency, the National Insurance Institute, the State Pension Fund and the Financial Supervision Commission broadened the access to information. Simplifications and user-friendliness remain an issue. Some segments of the needed information lag behind best practices, especially in terms of timeliness (e.g., government spending) but also content (e.g., inflation and information regarding ethnic backgrounds in labor market statistics and social inclusion-relevant issues).
The 2016 amendment to the Access to Information Act defined the term “open data” and led to the creation of a National Open Data Catalogue (Národní katalog otevřených dat, NKOD) and a central open data portal ( Open government became a significant issue in the 2017 parliamentary elections and the 2018 municipal elections, largely thanks to the newly established Pirate Party. As a result, the provision of data by the government has improved. However, it is not always provided in a user-friendly fashion and citizens seeking information are sometimes forced to jump through numerous administrative loops.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Babiš government refrained from publishing major pandemic-related data and information. The Ministry of Health refused to provide data even to other ministries and experts engaged in the government response. Several economic advisers resigned in protest, as the lack of data hampered their ability to provide relevant expertise. It took the threat of litigation by the NGO Hlidac státu (National Watchdog) for the government to provide relevant health statistics. Ever since, the government has published most pandemic-related data in a comprehensive, timely and user-friendly way.
The Dutch state shows a Janus face with regard to the issue of open government. On one hand, an avalanche of information about objective data and their official (often scientific) interpretation is made available to every citizen; on the other, the government maintains considerable secrecy about alternatives that may be on or off the table, arguments pro and con used in policy design, considerations relevant in shaping organizational matters, and which organizations and/or representatives participated in the deliberations.

The most important and high-prestige knowledge institutes regularly publish comprehensive, timely and accurate data and analyses. Such information is used in the annual information packages that accompany parliamentary deliberation and decision-making on the national budget and other issues. Throughout the year, government provides topical information about issues pertaining to ministerial policy agendas on the government website. For politically engaged citizens, it is thus quite possible to be well-informed on government policies. In the Edelman Trust Index 2019, like in the recent past, the Netherlands scored relatively high on trust in government information, with little difference between the well-informed and the broader public. But in 2021, much like in other countries, a deep divide showed up between the well-informed and the mass public: four in 10 of the latter believe the government intentionally misleads citizens through statements it knows to be incorrect or exaggerated and biased; moreover, also four in 10 believe that journalists do the same.

Not all of this can be explained as an expected response to fears triggered by the uncertainty and consequences of the pandemic. The Dutch government in fact proved to be less than an open government for two reasons.

First, the Department of Public Health refused to comply with the law which offers public access to most routine government information (Wet Openbaar Bestuur, WOB). Compliance with WOB demands was already an issue of political concern because the law also offers decision-makers plenty of opportunities to withhold or delay information if “necessary” for political convenience. In this case, refusal was based on the argument that in the midst of crisis management, there was not enough staff to process the demands for release of information. A deal with the written media bought time for the department to comply with running requests later; but this promise was never kept. Second, and more serious for trust in government among citizens and members of parliament, in many other cases and for many years the government actively withheld information from parliament. This was possible due to the so-called Rutte doctrine, named after its alleged originator, the prime minister himself. The doctrine held that the government could not be obliged to disclose information to citizens or (against the grain of the constitution, Art. 68) to parliament about “personal policy beliefs intended for internal deliberation (only).”

This exemption ground, stretched in extremis, resulted in tens of thousands of redacted passages in documents disclosed (including those from the child benefits affair), much to the anger and frustration of members of parliament, journalists, NGOs and many citizen activists. At the same time, investigative journalism articles published in De Correspondent and Follow the Money disclosed hidden governance agendas and issues, and government facilitation of structural business lobbying arrangements.

Meanwhile, as of the time of writing, the Rutte doctrine has been rejected as unconstitutional for parliament and members of parliament. The new coalition government promised to change the rules of information disclosure fully in line with the constitution. And the old WOB is being replaced by a new Open Government Law (Wet Open Overheid, Woo), which will enter into force on 1 June 2022. The new law foresees active publication of government information on specified categories by means of a special Platform for Open Government Information. Every government body will have a contact person tasked with helping citizens find the information they are seeking; and an Advisory Body for Open Government and Information Management will advise the government and parliament on compliance with rules on active information publication, and will mediate in conflicts between governing bodies and professional information users, like journalists.
De Correspondent, Enthoven, 12 January 2021. De Black Box van het openbaar bestuur.

Adformatie, Mulder, 18 February 2021. Dramatische val van van vertrouwen in Nederland; Edelman Trust Barometer is ongekend pessimistisch

Follow the Money, 27 July 2019. ABDUP: al bijna 75 jaar de onzichtbare lobby van Nederlandse multinationals. (, accessed 8 November 2019), 5 October 2021. Eerste Kamer stemt in met Wet open overheid (Woo)
The government publishes data in a limited and not timely or user-friendly way.
The Statistical Service and the Press and Information Office (PIO) systematically publish statistical data and reports, and information on the activities of the president and ministers. Ministries publish information on their work, albeit with significantly differing scope and type of information. The publication of annual activity reports by ministries and departments is often delayed by several years.

A website named EXANDAS, launched in 2019, provides access to government data, an inventory of projects and reforms, political decisions, and policies. The website provides an inventory of all actions undertaken by the government since 2013, but it is difficult to evaluate the progress made, in large part because no dates or timelines are specified with the data and information provided. The lack of comprehensive data and analysis on key policies and activities, in easy and legible forms, does not help citizens to evaluate the government’s work.
1. EXANDAS – Report for monitoring the progress of government work (in Greek),
According to the Freedom of Information principle established in 1990, and further extended in 2013 (Law decree no. 33) (FOIA-Governo), citizens have access to all administrative acts with limited exceptions. A government commission oversees the full application of this right. The frequency of access and the response rate are regularly monitored (Osservatorio FOIA).

The government does not have a systematic and comprehensive policy of making information easily accessible for citizens in such a way as would enable citizens to hold the government accountable. The Presidency of the Council of Ministers and the ministries themselves maintain web pages that publish information about government activities. However, the information published on these websites often provides a sequence of events (e.g., meetings of the ministers and press conferences) rather than data-rich documentation.
Citations: (accessed 20 December 2021) (accessed 20 December 2021).
Latvia joined the Open Government Partnership in 2011, with the State Chancellery as the assigned contact point. The government has made efforts to ensure Latvia complies with the partnership requirements. Four National Action Plans have been published since joining the partnership, monitoring the progress and proposing future improvements in the field of open government.

Following these recommendations, an online platform was set up in 2017 ( to serve as a single point of public access to government data. At the time of writing, the portal contained 581 datasets from 90 data publishers (compared to 33 datasets from 13 data publishers in 2017). However, it is not mandatory for government data to be published on the platform. Instead, data is only published on a voluntary basis. The Latvian Open Data Portal is linked with the European Data Portal, which means that all data published is also available on the European Data Portal.

In 2017, Latvia ranked 14 (up from 31 in 2015) in the Global Open Data Index. Open public sector data in Latvia is evaluated as meeting the basic criteria of the Open Data Index, but fails when it comes to more advanced criteria, especially when it comes to usability of the data (e.g., publishing documents in a machine-readable format, offering bulk-download options and using open license statements). Importantly, although the law (updated in 2018) regulates what information should be published online by governmental institutions, no unified approach is used when it comes to structuring the information, which often makes locating information difficult, although this could potentially be improved by the new unified state and local government website platform (see “Digitalization for Interministerial Coordination”).
1. State Chancellery (2017), National Action Plan 2017-2019, Available at:, Last accessed: 10.01.2022.

2. Latvian Open Data Portal, Available at:

4. Cabinet of Ministers (2020) Open Government, Available at:, Last accessed: 10.01.2022.

5. Global Open Data Index (2017), Available at:, Last accessed: 10.01.2022.
Malta provides a mixed picture with regard to open-government issues. Since the country obtained EU membership, governments have found themselves increasingly pressured to provide information through more open and transparent channels. Malta has a Whistleblower Act. The National Statistics Office (NSO), which was last reformed in 2015, regularly makes freely accessible information available on various matters. The NSO also responds to researchers and the media seeking access to information relating to a great diversity of subjects. Every ministry, department, public corporation and public sector board must publish annual reports and information on their websites. Hence, a vast quantity of information can be accessed online through government websites or EU portals. Information can be obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. However, this remains contested territory. Governments tend to be reluctant to publish public contracts, citing commercial sensitivity. This can be valid in some cases, but not in others. The data commissioner, who had to adjudicate a case relating to documents pertaining to the Vitals hospital deal, was not allowed to view the documents in question. Such information may ultimately be obtained through a laborious process that involves submitting a request to NAO to investigate the matter. However, leaks are common, which demonstrates that secrecy is no longer an option. Ombuds Office reports tend to show that politicians and public authorities generally have a negative attitude toward disclosing information. This remains a challenge today, undermining the overall openness and transparency of public administration. The 2020 ombudsman report stressed the need to amend the FOI act to increase transparency, and for the ombudsman to be given more clout in situations when the executive and the public authorities are not prepared to provide information requested to facilitate investigations.
Ministers should not only invite selected journalists to public events standards commissioner says. Times of Malta 06/02/19
‘Humanly impossible’ to establish number of vacant state properties Times of Malta 05/02/19
2017 Parliamentary Ombudsman Report
Times of Malta 16/10/19 Court rejects Times request for hospital deal documents
Ministry of Justice Annual Report 2018
Ombudsman annual report 2020
Mexico’s access to information law from 2003 guarantees the public’s right to request and receive information from the federal government. With the law, Mexico created the innovative Federal Institute for Access to Information (Instituto Federal de Acceso a la Información Pública – IFAI), which helps citizens to collect data and information. The government of President López Obrador is pursuing a more transparent policy toward citizens. The president’s daily press conferences symbolize this new openness. But on the other hand, the press conference is also used to avoid critical questions and circumvent independent media, expressing the top-down character of López Obrador’s information policy. Additionally, government communication policies at the national and subnational levels, especially regarding the war on drugs, cannot be considered very transparent. Another example can be seen in the data provided on the COVID-19 pandemic, which was rather (mis-)used by government to legitimize government policies rather than being a source of neutral and reliable information.
Poland is not a member of the Open Government Partnership. Still, the PiS government has expanded digital access to public administration and government data, and runs an open data portal ( In response to the European Commission’s new 2020 European Data Strategy, the government adopted a new medium-term data opening strategy in March 2021. This strategy aims to increase the number of available data resources from 19,000 in 2021 to 55,000 in 2027. However, the provision of data does not primarily aim to foster citizens’ participatory competence. This is clearly shown by the government’s selective and biased publication of information related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The government ignored calls by the Presidium of the Main Council of Doctors (Naczelna Rada Lekarska) to regularly publish data on COVID-19 infections among medical staff. Likewise, when Michał Rogalski, a 19-year-old high school student gathering data on the COVID-19 pandemic, found out that the infection numbers published by the subnational sanitary authorities did not add up to the totals presented by the government, the government responded by ceasing to publish the powiat-level data (Jaraczewski 2021). Given the gaps and inconsistencies in official data, many epidemiologists have preferred to work with the data gathered by Rogalski and his supporters.
Jaraczewski, J. (2021): The New Normal? – Emergency Measures in Response to the Second COVID-19 Wave in Poland, in: Verfassungsblog, March 24 (
Data and information is published by the government. However, it is not comprehensive nor necessarily regularly updated. It is also not easy to locate information, which is dispersed across agencies, ministries, QUANGOs, public administration bodies, and other state and quasi-state organizations.

In addition to the nature of the information, the government provides access to IT so that the citizens, in theory at least, can access data. Whether the available information is very useful is, however, questionable.

The government of Portugal has tried to improve access by setting up the e-Portugal portal (, which provides public access to government information within the framework of the Strategy for Digital Transformation of Public Administration. This tool might enhance the public’s ability to hold the government accountable.
Slovakia joined the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in 2011 and opened an Open Data Portal in 2015. While open data has been a part of Slovak OGP action plans every two years, very few high-demand datasets have been published. The quality of published datasets has suffered from persistent problems with insufficient updates to some datasets and the non-standardization of formats. Shortly before the 2020 elections the National Agency for Network and Electronic Services (NASES) has launched a new, improved version of the open data portal. The overhaul was part of the EU-funded project “eDemocracy and Open Government.” However, the provision of data has suffered from the fact that the adoption of the Act on Data, which has been on the agenda for some time, has been postponed several times (Žuffová 2020). The change of government after the 2020 elections and the accompanying staff changes on all levels within ministries have proved disruptive; and the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the implementation of planned training programs.
Žuffová, M. (2022): Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM): Slovak Republic Transitional Results Report 2019-2021. Washington, D.C.: Open Government Partnership (
The government does not systematically or regularly publish data or information that could strengthen the ability of citizens to evaluate or monitor the government. On the contrary, the government is widely seen as seeking to hide information that is readily available to citizens in neighboring countries. For example, the Pension Fund for State Employees has refused to publish the names of those pensioners who receive the largest payments from the fund and the amounts they receive.

The governing board of the central bank, appointed by parliament, does not publish the minutes of its meetings. This makes it impossible to ascertain whether the board has fulfilled its legal obligations to ensure that the central bank follows the law and makes it harder to investigate allegations of legal violations by central bank officials. In October 2008, the central bank lent the private bank Kaupthing €500 million just as Kaupthing was about to fail. The loan was not made in accordance with the bank’s rules and may have violated the law. It is a matter of record that one-third of the loan amount was deposited immediately in an offshore tax haven. Even so, as no minutes of meetings were kept, there is no way to determine whether the governing board of the bank fulfilled its legal obligations, let alone took appropriate measures.

These examples notwithstanding, the government has for some time run an open consultation web portal (Samráðsgátt, to increase transparency, and opportunities for public and stakeholder participation in policymaking. One can find and access drafts of bills, rules, and policy documents via the portal. Everyone can send in comments and suggestions. The extent to which such contributions can affect the actions or intentions of the government is, however, unclear.
Samráðsgátt stjórnvalda. Accessed 4 February 2022.
Romania joined the international Open Government Partnership in 2011, emphasizing the overarching goals of increasing transparency, promoting new technologies and engaging citizens. Within the framework of the partnership, five action plans have been approved since 2011. In 2013, the government established an open data portal ( which now provides over 1,000 datasets from almost 100 public bodies. From 2015 to 2017, the Ministry of Public Consultation and Civic Dialogue oversaw the implementation of the action plans. Since its disbandment in January 2018, the implementation oversight has rested with the Secretariat General of the Government. A quick look at the website of various ministries and agencies shows that the information provided is patchy, outdated or partial. Some of the websites are hard to access or are difficult to navigate. In Romania’s 2021 Recovery and Resilience Plan, €1.5 billion is earmarked for the digitalization of government. This may improve the timeliness and quality of government publications.

Some restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 state of emergency constrained the capacity of citizens (through civil society) to effectively hold the government accountable. In particular, Article 56 of the Presidential Decree 195/2020 doubled the response time on FOIA and petitions, while some authorities became very reluctant to respond at all.
Romanian Government (2018): Open Government Partnership: National Action Plan 2018-2020. Bucharest (

European Commission (2021). Fact Sheet on Romania’s Recovery and Resilience Plan. Brussels. (
The Open Government Partnership (OGP) Steering Committee designated the government of Turkey as inactive on 21 September 2016. Due to Turkey’s failure to meet the requirements, Turkey’s participation in the OGP ended in September 2017.

As part of its fight against corruption, Turkey prepared an Action Plan 2012 – 2013 that included launching four web portals (i.e., for transparency, expenditure, electronic procurement, and regulations), identifying areas at risk of corruption, developing relevant measures, minimizing bureaucratic obstacles, and promoting integrity, transparency and accountability.

The credibility and validity of data provided by public institutions have recently been substantially shaken. TURKSTAT, for instance, changed its calculation of GDP in 2016, which made the tracing of time-series data impossible. In calculating GDP, TURKSTAT changed the base year to 2008, when the Turkish economy experienced significant improvement. Similarly, political pressure has been put on authorized institutions to manipulate figures, with the results becoming more evident in recent years. One public survey reveals that TURKSTAT is the least trusted institution in the country, with a trust rate of 22.8%.
Open Government Partnership. “Turkey (Withdrawn).” July 06, 2020.

Eğilmez, M. (2016). GSYH hesaplaması değişti, kişi başına gelirimiz arttı.

Gazeteduvar. “Anket: Diyanet’e, Merkez’e TÜİK’e güvensizlik yüzde 50’nin üzerinde,” December 14, 2021.
The Hungarian government is certainly not an open government, since access to relevant information is very difficult even for members of parliament and much more for ordinary citizens. Hungary quit the Open Government Partnership in late 2016 because the Hungarian government had been heavily criticized for its lack of transparency and its treatment of NGOs in this forum. In December 2016, the Orbán government approved a White Paper on National Data policy that called for strengthening efforts to make public sector information available as open data. As it stands, the datasets available at the central open data portal are limited and difficult to use. The lack of transparency was a major issue in the municipal elections in October 2019. The Hungarian government has provided information on the COVID-19 pandemic in a very selective manner. Vital data on case numbers by regions and municipalities have not been published in a consistent and reliable manner.
The government publishes (almost) no relevant data.
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