How OGP influenced the debate around Open Data in Moldova and Romania

By Veronica Cretu and Bogdan Manolea (Romania) – full version accessible from http://codd.md/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/The-influence-of-the-Open-Government-Partnership-OGP-on-the-Open-Data-discussions.pdf

Open Government Partnership (OGP) has certainly managed to build the momentum around Open Data initiatives in several OGP member countries around the globe. By having Governments produce national Action Plans on Open Government, Open Data may become one of the key priorities as part of country Action Plans, especially if the civil society can also push for it.
However, in countries with limited experience of participatory democracy more efforts are needed in order to build the demand for open data via Open Government, social accountability, citizen-centered approaches and practices.
At the same time OGP is a good tool for civil society to promote the usage of Open Data, but it needs to be tackled in a multi-stakeholder approach, where the business sector and entrepreneurs must be involved. Open Data are a means, not a goal, and it is an important aspect that key stakeholders should be emphasizing more and more often. That is why it was crucial that the Open Data events bring in together, not only developers’ community, but also mass-media representatives, civil society representatives, Government representatives.

While it is still too early to assess properly the overall impact of the Open Data in Moldova and Romania, it is fair to say that the available evidence suggest that its short term direct impact has a great potential for further development and growth if proper mechanisms are set up in place.

Impact is more likely to become visible in the long-term if it results out of the combination of technological and organizational innovation.
Civil society community becomes more and more interested in looking at initiatives that pursue the goals of improving public services and promoting web-based innovation, thus, covering the policy priorities of good and open governance, service delivery and innovation. However, the biggest challenge lies in the understanding of the type of services needed, type of services for which the local context is ready, type of services that have the potential to serve a wider community of users. Civil society should be more active and more engaged, and should learn how to scrutinize government and take more responsibility for the co-delivery of services.
OGP proved to be a valuable tool for promoting or enhancing open data policies, but it is up to the countries themselves to understand how they can develop the re-use of public information beyond the OGP requirements – and we specifically refer to the involvement of the entrepreneurs and the commercial re-use of public information. Both countries examples that we discussed in this paper are still lacking examples of success stories on the commercial re-use, as a direct result of the PSI policies.