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Open data will not automagically ensure transparency in the BS Aquino Administration!

Open Data Web Portal

"It is too early to tell if the open data web portal will enhance transparency, accountability and citizen engagement," said Ms. Gladys Regalado, Deputy National Coordinator of the Computer Professionals' Union (CPU). More details after the jump.

The Philippine government launched data.gov.ph to consolidate "datasets of different government agencies" and make them "searchable, accessible, and useful." The site is part of its open governance initiatives "to foster a citizenry empowered to make informed decisions, and to promote efficiency and transparency in government."

"It is a welcome development that we now have a single repository for downloadable government data, something that was long overdue and should have always been present in government websites. However, open data initiatives should not be a substitute to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). An FOIA can mandate what kind of data will be 'open' to the public to ensure transparency. Without an FOI, data.gov.ph can be selective in releasing information." warns Ms. Regalado.

Internationally, open data proponents argue that open data lead to increased transparency and accountability with respect to public bodies and services; increases the efficiency and productivity of agencies and enhances their governance; promotes public participation in decision making and social innovation; and fosters economic innovation and job and wealth creation. However, "evidence of economic, social and democratic impacts of open data policy is still immature or lacking."

The site highlights raw data from government agencies in different formats. Data are usually in tabular form with rows as its records or entries and columns as its attributes. "We noticed that data downloaded from the site still require programming knowledge to properly load it on a spreadsheet program for analysis, unlike open data portals of other countries," notes Ms. Regalado.

"With the current culture of corruption in the BS Aquino government where information is hidden purposely, it would be difficult to find data that can actually help in transparency and good governance. We should have an FOIA and more patriotic whistleblowers and not just a repository website," concludes Ms. Regalado.

CPU is a network of computer professionals, IT practitioners and free and open source advocates united in advancing ICT for the People.

Source: Computer Professionals' Union (CPU)

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