Idea details: Canada’s Directive on Open Government – Creating a Culture of “Open by Default”


The Government of Canada will issue a mandatory policy to all departments and agencies that will require them to release more open data and information. Canadians have told us they want to be able to find, use, and repurpose government data and information. The expanded release of data and information will help Canadians to engage with their government about policies, programs, and services. More open data and information will also drive openness, innovation, and economic opportunities.

Potential activities may include:

  • Issuing an Open Government policy to maximize the release of government information and data in order to support transparency, accountability, and citizen engagement, and provide socio-economic benefits. The policy could include:
    • Ensuring that data and information is published in accessible and open formats, via Government of Canada open government websites, under an open and unrestrictive licence;
    • Publishing inventories of departmental data and information holdings; and
    • Publishing Open Government Implementation Plans which describe the specific actions to be undertaken to identify data and information for release.

Your collaboration will help make this proposed activity become a reality. In addition to your general comments, please let us know:

  • What do you see as the ultimate goal for this proposed activity within a two year span?
  • What are the specific actions and milestones required to meet this goal?
  • Who else should be involved in the implementation of this proposed activity?
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We note that the ATIA, at least in theory, established a system of “open by default” some three decades ago. To avoid this being just an empty slogan or buzzword, concrete proposals are needed. The most important change in this area over the last thirty years has been the development of sophisticated information technologies, which provide enormous practical opportunities for realising ‘open by default’, and we recommend that a commitment be made to put in place specific measures to harness this power for access to information.

There are a number of options here, but some concrete ideas include:
• Automatic, real time central tracking of requests and how they are being/have been processed, along with the regular release of key metadata about them.
• Significantly expanded tagging and keyword insertion during creation of formal documents, in order to assist users in finding the information they need (i.e. to enhance searchability).
• Putting in place systems for the real time updating of information and substantially enhancing the (automatic) proactive disclosure of information through tagging at the time of creation of a document.
• Pre-tagging of exempt information in documents as they are being created, in particular private information, so that this can be redacted quickly and easily for purposes of releasing the document, either proactively or pursuant to a request.

This in an excerpt from our full submission to the Open Government consultation. For the full submission, go to:

This post does not use the words "code" or "software". Would this policy also cover code & software? In other words, would this policy encourage the use of open source licenses within the Government of Canada/Public service?

This is not only a good idea it is necessary and it is just plain common sense that citizens in democracies have access to information concerning the actions, policies and spending of the governments they elect.

Will the Department of National Defence fall under this policy because I work for them and they really lock everything down, partly due to a security concern but open source access could still be provided internally to allow employees to make apps for employees.

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