The following is a brief summary of the secondary research for this paper. In the context of the research question, the review touches on elements of Information Management (IM) practices within the GC, data standards and recognized benefits of sharing Public Sector Information (PSI).
In 2010, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) conducted a formative evaluation to determine government accountability regarding policy, standards and directives. Key informants were interviewed including 39 representatives from various GC departments and agencies. The results of the evaluation highlighted resourcing as a main obstacle to implementing IM practices.
The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat is leading the efforts to strengthen the management of electronic information and in 2011, the Secretariat conducted a government-wide audit of electronic recordkeeping practices in large departments and agencies. The audit found that organizations are at risk of not effectively identifying and retrieving information needed for effective decision making. This risk is caused by exponential growth of electronic information outpacing internal resources for information management.
In addition, the Canadian government has been criticized for its performance in responding to access to information requests.,, Nearly half of the requests submitted to the Government of Canada exceed the thirty day limit prescribed by the Access to Information Act. Furthermore, improvements to the dissemination of OD in response to these requests could lead to more cost-effective practices.
The European Commission is working on an initiative for a common standard that will facilitate the cross-referencing of data and interoperability in order to provide greater benefits to users. A working group has been assembled, consisting of data experts from public and private organizations across 20 countries including Australia and the United States (US). In addition, the Open Data Institute is actively crowdsourcing to develop criteria that will help organizations assess the value of possible datasets. Meanwhile, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) has implemented and adapted several geospatial standards, guidelines and best practices which allow applications and systems to effectively operate with each other.,
Since February 2012, Statistics Canada has been disseminating its data at no cost; information from their CANSIM database and census data is now OD. This has important social and economic benefits, especially for small organizations, research initiatives and not-for-profit organizations which could not afford the cost of accessing these datasets in the past.
OD can also be used to prevent fraudulent activities. A review of questionable expense claims and receipts released as OD has helped the Canada Revenue Agency save $3.2 billion in tax receipts claims, which were disallowed. In addition, the OD data provided by Environment Canada (weather, air and water quality data) helps inform citizens and identify areas with climate issues.
The US government has also embarked on similar initiatives where the release of weather data has “benefited the American people and contributed to economic growth and jobs.” Additionally, the government has created mobile and web applications which provides a directory for community clinics to help citizens gain easier access to locations near them.
Meanwhile, the Danish government estimates that making basic data open and freely accessible will save the public sector $45 million per year. Likewise, the Danish private sector is estimated to save $87 million by reducing the cost of acquiring data, improving public services and adding opportunities for new digital products and services.
The British Government has reduced costs through the prevention of fraudulent activities and internal operating efficiencies with dissemination of internal PSI. A recent case study demonstrates how data sharing, both within and between departments, could save $65 billion through the internal and effective use of PSI.
Other benefits can be achieved when governments or private companies re-publish OD in the form of web or mobile applications. Recollect, a Vancouver company, developed and implemented a standard for managing garbage and recycling related data to remind citizens about their local collection days; this system has proven successful in several cities.
Applications that can provide useful and beneficial information to citizens can range from services that include border crossing waiting time, duty calculators, environmental and land conditions, transportation and bus information, tourist and recreational information, vehicle recalls, currency converters, property taxes, vaccine clinics, health products and locations of external defibrillators.,,