Thanks so much @barthanssens for your comments.
We would love to hear more about other countries. This is indeed a far-reaching topic and we would like many more governments to join the conversation. If any government official follows the conversation - please feel welcome to tell us your views and experiences on this topic.
The devolution of power and administrative autonomy are in fact two very important issues of national open data assessments. Some data is directly held by national/federal government units, in other cases we see that administrative sub-units have their own procedures to implement open data policy, or to collect and share data. This impacts who holds what data, and who shares data with whom.
Our rationale to look at NI separately
We base our decision on four factors:
- government agencies/organisations operate independently from British agencies
- the number of government agencies not sharing any of our tested data with GB significantly outweighs the number of those agencies who do share their data
- In addition, no data sharing agreed or practiced, indicating that data.gov.uk cannot host Northern Irish data
- separate open data policy needed to mandate the publication of open data by Northern Irish agencies
We see that the Northern Irish government has its own organisations/agencies which are distinct from those in Great Britain. Ordnance Survey of Great Britain does not cover Northern Ireland. A completely separate organisation Land & Property Services provides all Ordnance Survey surveying and mapping data for NI. Public procurement is done through entirely own procedures in GB and NI. The agencies operate independently, and policy is necessary to implement open data in this region.
The only two data categories of GODI that are in the remit of Westminster are company registers and weather data (which are excepted matters). Other than that, officials from the Northern Irish government informed us that most agencies operate largely autonomously.
We consider that the degree of power devolution is special in the case of Northern Ireland. Please do comment on this if you think these criteria apply to other federations too. @barthanssens is this similar to the situation in Belgium?
How we want to proceed
If an administrative sub-unit operates autonomously we face a problem because GODI wants to be a fair and actionable assessment for government. We do not want to penalise federal states for producing or managing their data decentrally in many agencies. There are at least two alternatives
- looking at a sample of regions that are representative for the population. We check if our data is provided in these regions. This could significantly increase the workload, and make an assessment unmanageable.
- looking whether national government entities provide the data (or an aggregated version thereof). Here we might miss a lot of detail how data publication plays out in regions
Together with our colleagues from the Open Data Barometer we are developing a research project dedicated to this topic - every help, from providing more information to volunteering for an interview, is very welcome. Any government official interested in this topic should get in touch. Or share their experiences in this thread!