Canada’s Draft Action Plan on Open Government 2.0

Your input and comments to date have been instrumental in the development of Canada's Action Plan on Open Government 2.0. Hundreds of ideas and comments have been shared, many of which are reflected throughout the draft version of the Action Plan 2.0.

Commenting is now closed, but we are always interested in hearing from you. Please share your feedback on Canada’s Open Government activities.

 

Canada's Action Plan on Open Government 2014-2016

Draft for consultation

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Achievements to Date
  3. Developing Canada's Action Plan 2.0
  4. Canada's Action Plan 2.0 Commitments
    1. Open Government Foundation - Open By Default
    2. Open Data - Open Data Without Borders
    3. Open Information - Transparency And Accountability
    4. Open Dialogue - Consult, Engage, Empower
  5. Conclusion

I. Introduction

As part of the global open government movement, governments seek to broaden access to data and information, ensure transparency and accountability, and strengthen citizen engagement in the activities of government and in our democratic process. Canada has a longstanding commitment to openness and accountability as the cornerstones of a strong, modern democracy. From the passing of Access to Information legislation over thirty years ago to current open government and proactive disclosure activities, the Government of Canada has worked to ensure transparency on government operations to enable Canadians to hold their government accountable.

Canada joined the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in April 2012 and remains committed to the principles of the OGP's Open Government Declaration. Canada's membership in the OGP provides key opportunities to advance our open government agenda, share and learn from international best practices, and collaborate with our OGP colleagues on solutions that benefit citizens globally. As co-chair for the OGP's Open Data Working Group, Canada works together with governments and civil society on defining shared principles for open data, including the use of common standards that will help align open data services offered around the world.

International leadership on open government is a key priority for the Government of Canada. In June 2013, the Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper and other G8 Leaders adopted the G8 Open Data Charter, which established open data principles for all member countries, and called for specific commitments to release core public sector data. The Sunlight Foundation, a key non-profit organization that advocates for open government globally, has ranked Canada's Action Plan for implementing the G8 Open Data Charter highest among G8 countries. Canada is also pledging to expand its Open Government activities far beyond open data to include a wide-ranging set of initiatives on open information and open dialogue in addition to its ground-breaking work on open data. These activities will help set the tone for all the commitments in our Action Plan on Open Government moving forward.

The OGP requires that member countries consult with citizens and civil society on the development of a national Action Plan with commitments to be implemented over a two-year period aimed at addressing one or more of the following grand challenges:

  • Improving Public Services: measures that address the full spectrum of citizen services by fostering public service improvement or private sector innovation;
  • Increasing Public Integrity: measures that address corruption and public ethics, access to information, campaign finance reform, and media and civil society freedom;
  • More Effectively Managing Public Resources: measures that address budgets, procurement, natural resources and foreign assistance;
  • Creating Safer Communities: measures that address public safety, the security sector, disaster and crisis response, and environmental threats;
  • Increasing Corporate Accountability: measures that address corporate responsibility on issues such as the environment, anti-corruption, consumer protection, and community engagement.

Furthermore, as required by the OGP, the Government of Canada will report regularly on the implementation of its Action Plan, including the publication of a self-assessment report and through participating in the OGP's independent review process. Through these important processes, Canadians will be able to monitor progress being made on Canada's open government commitments.

The Government of Canada is proud of its membership in the OGP and of its open government efforts to date to increase transparency, accountability, civic engagement, and trust in government. The twelve commitments in our second Action Plan on Open Government target a range of initiatives to improve access to open data, open information, and open dialogue for Canadians.

II. Achievements to Date

Canada's first Action Plan on Open Government was launched at the 2012 OGP Annual Summit in Brazil. Over the last two years, significant progress has been made on a broad range of initiatives to increase access to open data, open information, and open dialogue. This has established a strong foundation on which future open government activities can be built, including new government-wide policy on the release of open data and information, and modern, state-of-the-art platforms to enable public access to government information and engagement opportunities. Key accomplishments include:

  • Next-Generation Open Data: The Government of Canada's next-generation open data portal (data.gc.ca) was launched in June 2013. This new discovery portal was built based on broad public consultations with users to define new capabilities, and enhancements were made to expand the availability of high-value data, improve data integrity, enrich the usability of the site, facilitate intuitive discovery of data, and increase user engagement.
  • Modernization of Access to Information (ATI) Services: Enhanced online services were launched in 2013 to enable Canadians to search completed ATI requests across all federal departments through a single search interface, and to submit new Access to Information requests via the Web.
  • Open Government Licence (OGL): In 2013, the Government of Canada issued a new open government licence for all levels of government in order to remove barriers to the reuse of published government data and information regardless of origin. This licence has been adopted not only by the Government of Canada, but also by several provincial governments and municipalities across the country.
  • Canada.ca: Late last year, the federal government introduced its new government-wide web portal at Canada.ca that provides intuitive navigation features to help Canadians find the information they need more quickly and easily. The portal enables users to quickly complete tasks, and features government-wide search capabilities, better use of social media, and optimized content for mobile devices.
  • Canadian Open Data Experience (CODE): In February 2014, the Government of Canada held the largest competitive open data hackathon in Canadian history, bringing together over 900 developers, students, and open data enthusiasts from across Canada to develop over 100 innovative applications using federal data.

III. Developing Canada's Action Plan 2.0

Canada has developed our new national Action Plan in consultation with citizens, civil society, and the private sector. Our multi-phase consultation approach has served to increase public awareness of our open government activities, of specific consultation activities, and of the OGP. More importantly, it has enabled us to tap into the views of Canadians on how best to advance open government priorities over the next two years. Major consultation activities have included the following.

  1. Public Consultation Planning (April 2014): Citizens and civil society were able to review our proposed draft consultation plan on data.gc.ca, as well as advance notice of all planned online and in-person events to consult on the Action Plan. During this first phase of our consultations, we asked Canadians to provide suggestions on how to strengthen our consultation plan to maximize public input into the development of the Action Plan.
  2. Generating Ideas (May to August 2014): During this second phase of our consultations, a variety of mechanisms were used to support public generation of ideas new and old for potential inclusion in Action Plan 2.0. Citizens and civil society were invited to participate in a series of public workshops and discussion panels in cities across the country to brainstorm on new open government commitments, and online consultations sought additional ideas for which the public could add their vote of support.
  3. Proposing Activities (August to September 2014): During this critical phase of consultations, proposed activities for the Action Plan informed by the public's generation of ideas were posted online for public review and comments. In-person events during this phase also provided a public forum for discussion of proposed activities and initiatives, seeking feedback on what could be accomplished within the timeframe of the Action Plan.
  4. Full Review of Action Plan (October 2014): Finally, during the final phase of consultations prior to finalizing our commitments, a full draft of Action Plan 2.0 was posted on data.gc.ca for public review and comments.

Canadians and civil society have been engaged at each stage of the development of the Action Plan with feedback sought from the public, open government experts from civil society, academia, and the private sector. A final Consultation Report will also be published that includes detailed information of the results of public consultations as well as key lessons learned throughout the process.

In October 2013, the Government of Canada published its report on the implementation of our first Action Plan, and subsequently, progress was also assessed under the OGP's independent reporting process earlier this year. As with all of our public consultations, feedback and recommendations obtained through these reviews have helped guide the development of our second Action Plan on Open Government. In particular, the OGP's independent review highlighted the need to improve our approach to consulting citizens and civil society members on the development and implementation of open government commitments. Accordingly, the Government of Canada has taken important steps to improve its approach to public consultation in support of the development of our second Action Plan. We look forward to continuing to explore opportunities to collaborate and engage with Canadian citizens and civil society members on the implementation of these activities moving forward.

IV. Canada's Action Plan 2.0 Commitments

Canada's second Action Plan on Open Government consists of twelve commitments that will advance open government principles in Canada over the next two years and beyond. The Directive on Open Government, new policy direction to federal departments and agencies on open government, will provide foundational support for each of the additional commitments which fall under three streams: Open Data, Open Information, and Open Dialogue.

Figure 1: Our Commitments

Open Government Directive Diagram

Figure 1: Our Commitments - Text version

Figure 1 lays out Open Government commitments in a circular model with 3 layers of rings. A foundational commitment, the Open Government Directive, is placed in the centre ring. The second ring contains the three Open Government streams with their activities as follows:

  1. Open Data
    1. Open Data Canada
    2. Canadian Open Data Exchange
    3. Open Data for Development
    4. Open Data Core Commitment
  2. Open dialogue
    1. Next-Generation Consulting with Canadians
  3. Open Information
    1. Open Science
    2. Mandatory Reporting on Extractives
    3. Open Contracting
    4. Open Information on Budgets and Expenditures
    5. Digital Literacy
    6. Open Information Core Commitment

The outer ring of the circle contains the four open government principles: 1. Availability of Information, 2. Professional Integrity, 3. New Technologies and 4. Citizen Participation.

In addition to advancing OGP principles for transparency, accountability, and citizen engagement, each of our commitments provides support for one or more of the five grand challenges identified by the Open Government Partnership:

  • GC1 - Improving Public Services
  • GC2 - Increasing Public Integrity, and
  • GC3 - Effectively Managing Public Resources.
  • GC4 – Creating Safer Communities; or
  • GC5 – Increasing Corporate Accountability.

A. Open Government Foundation - "Open By Default"

What We Heard From Canadians

"Embed Open Government responsibilities in the institutional structure of government departments, and hold departments accountable for meeting citizen-stated needs."

"Need to see "Open by Default" emerging at the international level, and being incorporated as part of specific policy instruments for the Government of Canada."

Increasingly governments around the world have come to recognise that free and open access to government data and information are of significant value to society and the economy. The key challenge governments face is how to shift to an environment where data and information are released openly to the public by default while respecting privacy, security, and confidentiality restrictions.

This represents a fundamental change in government culture, which requires a government-wide Directive to drive the release of federal information, and advance overall objectives for transparency, accountability, and citizen engagement.

Implement Directive on Open Government

The Government of Canada will issue mandatory policy requiring federal government departments and agencies to maximize the release of data and information of business value subject to applicable restrictions related to privacy, confidentiality, and security. Eligible data and information will be released in standardized, open formats, free of charge.

The proactive release of data and information is the starting point for all other open government activity. It is the foundation upon which all other aspects of Canada's Action Plan are based. Accordingly, the Government of Canada will firmly establish an "open by default" position into its mandatory policy framework by issuing a new Directive on Open Government.

The Directive will provide clear and mandatory requirements to government departments aimed squarely at ensuring the availability of eligible government information and data while respecting any restrictions related to privacy, security, and confidentiality. Furthermore, the Directive will support broader accountability and transparency, ensuring that open government requirements are considered in the development and implementation of all federal programs and services. Departments and agencies will also be required to develop inventories of their data and information to support planning for release, and to lay out plans for release.

Maximizing the release of data and information will enable Canadians to better engage with their government, hold it accountable, support meaningful civic engagement, and drive social and economic benefits through the innovative reuse of data and information.

Deliverables to be completed in 2014-2016:
  • Issue a new Directive on Open Government to maximize the release of eligible government data and information of business value subject to applicable restrictions related to privacy, confidentiality, and security.
  • Require federal departments and agencies to publish Open Government Implementation Plans which describe planned activities to meet the requirements of the Directive, including:
    • Establishing and maintaining inventories of data and information holdings;
    • Publishing data and information in accessible and open formats on Government of Canada Open Government websites under an open and unrestrictive licence; and
    • Reporting annually on progress made.

Lead Department: Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Grand Challenges: GC1, GC2, GC3

B. Open Data - "Open Data Without Borders"

What We Heard From Canadians

"Ensure portals are easy to use, data is easy to discover, and datasets are readable for all individuals, not just those with an extremely high level of data literacy"

"Work to integrate Open Government accountability mechanisms and Open Data access across federal, provincial, territorial and municipal jurisdictions."

In its June 2014 report entitled "Open Data: The Way of the Future", the House of Commons Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates indicated that open data has become the "raw material for the digital age", and encouraged the federal government to continue to "innovate and develop its vision for open data in Canada."

Building on the strong foundation of open data efforts to date, Canada's Action Plan on Open Government includes four specific commitments to unlock the innovation potential of open data over the next two years. The first two commitments focus on deepening collaboration on open data among Canadian governments at all levels, and with the private sector, to harmonize open data services in Canada and encourage the reuse and commercialization of open data. The third commitment supports open data activities internationally in order to encourage the continued growth of the global open data movement, and reinforce Canada's role as an international leader in open government. Finally, the fourth open data commitment lays out improvements to be made to core ongoing open data activities.

1) Open Data Canada

The Government of Canada will work with provinces, territories, and municipalities to break down barriers to integrated, pan-Canadian open data services through the establishment of common principles, standards, licensing across all levels of government.

As announced at the OGP Annual Summit in October 2013, the pan-Canadian "Open Data Canada" strategy will remove existing jurisdictional barriers to realizing the full potential of open data in Canada. By harmonizing and integrating the diverse range of open data activities happening at all levels of government across Canada, we will facilitate a "no wrong door approach" to open government data, regardless of which government owns it.

This is a challenging prospect given that Canada is a decentralized federation in which government programs and services cut across multiple jurisdictions. Health, transportation, and agriculture are just a few examples of government activities that have municipal, provincial/territorial, and federal involvement. Our consultations with citizens and civil society have reinforced how important it is that users be able to combine data from multiple jurisdictions in spite of any challenges that stand in the way. These challenges include data ownership, search and discovery barriers, licensing, cataloging, and significant differences across jurisdictions with regard to capacity. As part of our commitment to open data in Canada, we will address these challenges head-on.

Work on these activities will be governed by a national Open Data Canada Steering Committee with representation from all levels of government. The end result will provide unprecedented access to comprehensive open data from across Canada to spur innovation, increase productivity, and ultimately improve the lives of Canadians.

Deliverables to be completed in 2014-2016:
  • Establish common open data principles for adoption by governments across Canada.
  • Adoption of a common or compatible open Government Licence by all Canadian governments to facilitate the release and reuse of open data and information.
  • Establish common open data standards (e.g., metadata, data formats) to be adopted by governments across Canada.
  • Pilot federated open data search with provinces to provide a "no wrong door" approach for accessing open data, so users can easily find and download data regardless of which government open data portal they choose to use.
  • Expand and deliver a national appathon event, the Canadian Open Data Experience (CODE), to promote access to, and reuse of, multi-jurisdictional data to develop new and innovative tools and services for Canadians.

Lead: Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat working with Provinces, Territories, and Municipalities.

Grand Challenges: GC1

2) Canadian Open Data Exchange (CODEX)

The Government of Canada will establish an open data institute to support collaboration among the private sector, academia, and government to promote the commercialization of open data.

The global movement of technology and social media is generating massive amounts of information. Capitalizing on data offers $1.3 trillion in possible economic development in North America alone (Open data: Unlocking innovation and performance with liquid information). This type of opportunity is leading public sector institutions in Canada at all levels to undertake open data initiatives. In response to the tremendous commercial opportunity represented by open data, the Government of Canada has announced an investment of $3M over three years to launch a new institute on open data: the Canadian Open Data Exchange (CODEX).

While governments collect much of the world's data, they do not always share these data in ways that are easily discovered, accessed, used, or understood by the public. Today, citizens expect to be able to access information and services electronically when and how they want it. The creation of an information economy has motivated government to release vast amounts of public data, but there remain real challenges to accessing that data in a way that can generate insights, ideas, and services to truly benefit society. CODEX will work with government, the private sector, and academia to help realize the full potential of open data for the economic and social benefit of Canada. CODEX will bring together all of the pieces to enable a sustainable market-driven, open-data ecosystem whose success is measured by commercialization outcomes such as job creation, company creation, and wealth creation.

The vision of CODEX is that by creating a platform and toolsets to help commercial actors use available datasets, new products and companies may be launched to meet market needs, social challenges will be addressed to improve the quality of life for Canadians, and above all – new jobs will be created.

CODEX will develop industry standards for open data, build a national marketplace where commercialization of open data can flourish, and support a pan-Canadian open data innovation community that will help incubate the next generation of data-driven companies. Through CODEX, Canadians will be able to see the measurable economic benefits of open data in the form of job creation, investment in data-driven companies, and the establishment of a national hub for the commercialization of open data.

Deliverables to be completed in 2014-2016:
  • Create the CODEX platform – a national marketplace that includes an online community for those engaged in the commercialization of open data.
  • Develop prototypes for new tools and applications that access and manipulate government data.
  • Establish a framework for open data standards – the articulation of industry standards for presenting/providing access to open data in key sectors.
  • Develop demonstration projects in priority sectors as determined by industry champions and CODEX.
  • Launch a National outreach program – including events, workshops, hackathons, and student contest opportunities nationwide.
  • Incubate new data-driven companies.

Lead: Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern  Ontario

Grand Challenges: GC1

3) Open Data for Development

The Government of Canada will work together with developing countries to harness the potential of open data to enhance accountability, create new solutions for delivery of public services, and create new economic opportunities around the world.

Open data holds an enormous potential to enhance development efforts around the world. As the OGP Open Data Working Group co-chair, Canada is committed to strengthening a truly global open data movement, exploring ways to use collaboration and technology to strengthen democracy and build prosperity. As noted in the OGP's Four-Year Strategy (2015-2018), national action plans are meant to provide an organizing framework for international networking. The OGP is in many ways a global platform to connect, empower and support open government reform across member countries.

In recent years, Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) has supported initiatives in developing countries to better use open data for development, establishing a global network of partners around the Open Data for Development (OD4D) initiative. The OD4D initiative aims to support global and regional efforts from governments, civil society organizations, and entrepreneurs harnessing open data to achieve development outcomes, and enrich the international sharing of open data solutions and best practices.

Deliverables to be completed in 2014-2016:
  • Build the capacity of the open data initiatives in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia, and establish important partnerships with the open data movement in Canada:
    • support developing countries to plan and execute national open data initiatives;
    • create data standards and solution-driven networks that can help to bring about social and economic innovation; and
    • measure and evaluate the relationship between open data initiatives and socioeconomic development, informing the quality and reach of future open data initiatives.
  • Host an International Open Data Conference in 2015 to bring together experts from around the world to share knowledge and experience to strengthen international collaboration on open government issues.

Lead: International Development Research Centre (IDRC)

Grand Challenges: GC1, GC2, GC3

4) Open Data Core Commitment

The Government of Canada will continue to unlock the potential of open data through a series of innovative and forward-looking projects that drive government-wide progress on open data and prioritize easy access to high-value federal data.

Having now launched its next-generation portal for federal open data, and released the Open Government Licence, as part of meeting the deliverable of our first Action Plan, the Government of Canada is focused on continuing to raise the bar on ensuring high-quality open data services for Canadians.

Through its open data initiatives to date, the Government of Canada is providing Canadians with access to timely, comprehensive, high-value data in open, reusable formats. Already, more than 40 departments and agencies have made available more than 200,000 datasets on everything from weather, to border wait times, to product recalls,  to our vast collection of maps and geospatial data. Moving forward, we will accelerate the release of high-value data, and continue to enhance and improve our open data platforms and services. By driving the proactive release of open data, we will increase government transparency, drive innovation, and maximize Canadians' potential reuse of federal data.

In 2013, the first Canadian Open Data Experience (CODE) was envisioned to challenge innovators across the country to test their talent and liberate the data available on data.gc.ca. From February 28th to March 2nd, over 900 participants raced against the clock to code an open data application in the largest hackathon in Canadian history. Over the next two years under Action Plan 2.0, the government will work with partners, other levels of government, and the private sector to expand this flagship activity to further engage open data users across the country to promote the availability and reuse potential of federal open data.

In addition, we will continue to increase the transparency of Canada's international development activities through open data to improve transparency in relation to international development aid, which contributes to greater aid effectiveness, and increases the ability of citizens in partner countries to hold their governments to account on development projects overseas.

Deliverables to be completed in 2014-2016:
  • Continue to prioritize and expand the release of open data from federal departments and agencies under a single Open Government Licence.
  • Launch a new government-wide Open Government portal with expanded open data services:
    • Interactive thematic open data communities (e.g. environment, health and safety, etc.) and enhanced consultation functionality and online forums;
    • Directory of open data services across Canada;
    • Expanded developers' tools to support reuse of federal data;
    • Enhanced data discovery;
    • Standardized release procedures, formats, and metadata.
  • Expand and deliver Canadian Open Data Experience (CODE) as the premier national open data competition to drive creative and ambitious innovation in Canada:
    • Increase promotion of CODE activities and events;
    • Expand use of regional hubs to increase participation  in all areas of Canada;
    • Create sub-themes to focus application development on everyday challenges facing Canadians.
  • Consolidate the management of federal geospatial data across the Government of Canada to make it more accessible and reusable via federal open government websites.
  • Broaden adoption of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) standard in the Government of Canada, and encourage other Canadian actors to publish their own data, in particular civil society organizations.

Lead: Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.

Grand Challenges: GC1, GC3

C. Open Information - Transparency And Accountability

What We Heard From Canadians

"Improve digital literacy in Canada, promote better learning about and understanding of data and its reuse"

"Implementing mandatory payment reporting standards for Canada's mining, oil and gas companies is a tremendous opportunity for Canadian leadership."

The Government of Canada, like all modern governments, possesses a vast wealth of information about our country and its citizens. From program and policy-related information, to scientific and research data, to financial and expenditure information, and to historical archives, the breadth and depth of government information can be overwhelming.

Improved awareness and access to this information for both the public and for government officials is an essential element of open government. As the OGP notes, "governments collect and hold information on behalf of people, and citizens have a right to seek information about governmental activities." Put into the hands of the public, this information can lead to greater accountability and a stronger civil society.

Canada's Action Plan places a strong emphasis on providing Canadians with access to open information, and includes six specific commitments to advance activities in this area over the next two years. New commitments focus on improving access to scientific research and data, legislating mandatory public reporting to improve transparency of extractive industries in Canada, and broadening open information on government contracts, budgets, and expenditures. Additionally,  Canada will work to improve Canadians' skills as consumers of digital data and information.

Finally, enhancements to core open information activities initiated in Canada's first Action Plan will also be advanced, including efforts to modernize the administration of Access to Information services, to develop new online resources which support the proactive release of government documents and publications, and to establish the Government of Canada's new government-wide web presence (Canada.ca). Together, these activities will provide Canadians with unprecedented ease of discovery and access to a wealth of Canadian federal government information.

1) Open Science

The Government of Canada will maximize access to federally-funded scientific research to encourage greater collaboration and engagement with the scientific community, the private sector, and the public.

The Government of Canada makes significant investments in scientific research. As a result, Canada has become a world leader in a number of important scientific research areas, and continues to support leading-edge research by some of the world's best scientific minds. Increasing public access to government funded scientific research data and information has the potential to further drive innovation and discovery across the broader scientific community.

On June 12, 2013, the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for Science and Technology, signed the G8 Science Ministers Statement on behalf of the Government of Canada "to promote policies that increase access to the results of publicly funded research results to spur scientific discovery, enable better international collaboration and coordination of research, enhance the engagement of society and help support economic prosperity". Accordingly, the Government of Canada will establish a government-wide approach to Open Science to increase access to federally-funded scientific publications and data.

Deliverables to be completed in 2014-2016:
  • Develop and publish a government-wide Open Science Implementation Plan which lays out strategies and milestones to:
    • engage in consultations on the implementation of Open Science;
    • maximize open access to publications and to data resulting  from federally-funded scientific activities;
    • develop and adopt policies, guidelines and tools to support effective stewardship of scientific data;
    • promote the adoption of Open Science standards in Canada;
    • publish government funded scientific data; and
    • establish a timeline for release of publication and data.
  • Establish an online service to enable a one-stop search for publications and data resulting from federally-funded scientific activities.
  • Establish common Open Access requirements for federally funded scientific research.
  • Develop inventories of scientific data, and initiate the public release of data supporting scientific research publications.
  • Publish and maintain a consolidated online list of peer-reviewed articles by Government of Canada scientists dating back to 2012.

Lead: Environment Canada.

Grand Challenges: GC1, GC3

2) Mandatory Reporting on Extractives

The Government of Canada will establish reporting standards for Canadian mining, oil, and gas companies, based in legislation, in order to enhance transparency and accountability in natural resource development everywhere Canadian extractive companies operate.

As a country with abundant natural resource wealth, Canada understands the necessity of openness and accountability in resource development both at home and abroad. Responsible development attracts investment, helps enhance the reputation of Canada's extractives firms, and strengthens international partnerships.

Accordingly, the Government of Canada will establish reporting standards on the payments made to governments in Canada and abroad by Canadian companies in the mining, oil, and gas sectors. Extractive companies are often required to make such payments to cover licence fees, rental and entry fees, royalties, and other costs. Mandatory reporting standards will increase Canadians' awareness about how extractive companies' revenues are spent, which supports transparency and social responsibility, helps to combat corruption, and promotes a level playing field for companies operating in Canada and internationally.

By creating an open reporting environment, with clear and understandable information made available to the public, greater transparency and accountability in resource development can be achieved everywhere Canadian extractives firms operate.

Deliverables to be completed in 2014-2016:
  • Introduce new legislation to enact mandatory reporting by companies in the mining, oil, and gas sectors.
  • Complete public consultations on the implementation of mandatory reporting standards that will require extractive companies to report annually on payments to all levels of government, domestically and internationally, on a project-level basis.
  • Develop and implement processes to require extractives companies to publish data on the payments they make to governments in Canada and around the world in formats that are easily accessible and understandable by the public.
  • Provide a directory of extractives companies to which the new legislation will apply on the federal open government portal.

Lead: Natural Resources Canada

Grand Challenges: GC1, GC2, GC3, GC5

3) Open Contracting

The Government of Canada will coordinate single-window access to a broad range of open contracting information from across federal departments.

The federal government spends millions of dollars every year on procurement activities, and Canadians need to understand how that money is spent and what is being received in return. This is essential to ensuring accountability for the stewardship of public money. In addition, parties involved in public contracts must understand that the open, proactive disclosure of contracting data is one of the conditions of doing business with the Government of Canada.

The Government of Canada has demonstrated global leadership in this area through its robust disclosure regime for contracting data. Since 2004, federal departments and agencies have been required to proactively disclose information on contracts awarded over $10,000 on their websites. Furthermore, the Government of Canada's buyandsell.gc.ca website for procurement data has been influential in the design of the Open Contracting Partnership's (OCP) draft international Open Contracting Data Standard. Canada supports the steps taken by the OCP to strengthen openness and transparency of procurement processes in the international community through the establishment of Open Contracting Global Principles. In this regard, the Government of Canada commits to engaging in interdepartmental consultations to improve upon the disclosure of contracting data to strengthen openness and transparency of its procurement processes.

Moving forward, planned enhancements to the Government of Canada's approach to open contracting will increase Canadians' knowledge of how their tax dollars are being spent on procurement activities.

Deliverables to be completed in 2014-2016:
  • Complete interdepartmental consultations on the harmonization of Government of Canada open contracting activities.
  • Streamline and centralize contracting data into a single, public, machine readable database.
  • Pilot a project to significantly increase the level of detail disclosed on government contracts over $10,000.
  • Provide additional guidance and training to government departments and agencies on open contracting.

Lead: Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, Public Works and Government Services Canada

Grand Challenges: GC1

4) Open Information on Budgets and Expenditures

The Government of Canada will publish expanded information and data on federal spending to help Canadians understand, and hold government accountable for, the use of public monies.

One of the most important things Canadians want from their government is information on how their tax dollars are being spent. Often the budget and expenditures process can be somewhat opaque to the average citizen, and it is incumbent on the government to make every effort to ensure taxpayers understand how their money is being spent.

Canada has demonstrated clear leadership in providing Canadians with access to information on government expenditures. Since 2003, federal departments and agencies have proactively released information on government operations (e.g., travel, contracts, hospitality expenditures) on their Web sites to allow Canadians and Parliament to better hold the Government and public sector officials to account. Currently proactively disclosed information is fragmented, published on over a hundred individual departmental websites. Under our new Action Plan, Canadians will be provided with single-window access to search and compare this information across government.

In order to ensure Canadians have the information they need on government finances and expenditures, the Government of Canada will provide enhanced online tools that provide a clear picture of the financial expenditures of federal departments and agencies. These new tools will provide innovative visualizations of data, interactive infographics, and public reports released as interactive documents. By using these tools Canadians will be able to track government spending by departments and agencies over time, and more effectively compare and contrast expenditures across departments.

Deliverables for 2014-2016:
  • Launch a new interactive online service to enable Canadians to review federal spending broken down by department and compare expenditures across departments.
  • Standardize procedures for publishing mandatory Proactive Disclosure information by federal departments and agencies.
  • Provide single-window online access for searching and interacting with information proactively disclosed by departments and agencies (travel and hospitality, contracts, grants and contributions, etc.).
  • Release comprehensive open data on historical, current, and planned government spending across departments and agencies.

Lead: Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Grand Challenges: GC1, GC2, GC3

5) Digital Literacy

The Government of Canada will support the development of tools, training resources, and other initiatives to help Canadians acquire the essential skills needed to access, understand, and use digital information and new technologies.

Increasingly, Canadians are required to use technology to access, use, and create digital information in their work and other daily activities. Similarly, digital literacy skills are needed to take full advantage of the benefits of open data, information, and dialogue. The potential reach and impact of Canada's open government activities can be significantly augmented  by efforts to ensure citizens understand how to make use of the technologies that enable open government.

To this end, the Government of Canada will develop tools, training resources, and other initiatives to support digital skills development by Canadians. In order to target these activities more effectively, initiatives will be undertaken to better understand the relationship between digital skills and labour market and social outcomes.

Deliverables to be completed in 2014-2016:
  • Sponsor projects to increase understanding of the relationship between digital skills and relevant labour market and social outcomes, including building a profile of Canadians' digital skills competencies by region and by demographic group.
  • Develop online tools, training materials, and other resources to enable Canadians to assess and improve their individual digital skills.
  • Fund initiatives aimed at improving the digital skills of Canadians (e.g. digital skills in rural small business, essential skills for northern youth, business technology management accreditation).

Lead: Employment and Social Development Canada

Grand Challenges: GC1, GC2, GC3

6) Open Information Core Commitment

The Government of Canada will expand the proactive release of information on government activities, programs, policies, and services, making information easier to find, access, and use.

Providing open information helps to build a more engaged and informed citizenry, which promotes informed policy making  and better management of public resources.

Throughout our public consultations, Canadians have expressed their desire to see the Government of Canada expand its open information activities and facilitate easier access to published federal information. The Government of Canada will continue to take bold steps to make government information more widely available. This ranges from ensuring more effective records management across all federal departments and agencies as the foundation of transparency and accountability, to the development of new public facing open government resources like "Open Docs", a new online virtual library, to improved access to historical and archival records, and finally to better and more efficient Access to Information services to Canadians.

Digital technologies have made it far easier to for governments to create, repurpose and disseminate information than ever before. Robust information management and next-generation search and discovery services will significantly improve the sharing of government information in support of government transparency and accountability. At the same time, public access to government research and analysis will open to the door to the unlimited reuse of this information in new and innovative ways.

Deliverables to be completed in 2014-2016:
  • Modernize the administration of Access to Information (ATI) services across the federal government, including the development of:
    • Standardized, whole-of-government services and solutions to expedite ATIP requests;
    • Expanded whole-of-government training strategy to help government officials understand and manage their responsibilities under ATI and Privacy legislation.
  • Launch the "OpenDocs" Virtual Library to provide access to federal publications through a one-stop online, indexed and searchable repository of published federal documents of all kinds.
  • Improve the management and accessibility of government records and facilitate faster responses to requests for information through the roll-out of GCDOCS, a government-wide records management solution for the federal government.
  • Improve Canadians' access to federal records by removing access restrictions on  federal archives held by Library and Archives Canada.
  • Accelerate access to all online Government of Canada information through the new whole-of-government Canada.ca website:
    • Intuitive user-centric design;
    • Whole-of-government search;
    • Faster access to frequently used services and information.

Leads: Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, Library and Archives Canada

Grand Challenges: GC1, GC2, GC3.

D. Open Dialogue - Consult, Engage, Empower

What We Heard From Canadians

"The government should move forward to develop a set of principles and standards for all consultation processes."

"Engage with thematic communities based on important Open Government themes, work to prioritize datasets across Government of Canada departments"

Open dialogue between governments and citizens is critical for building trust. Through better engagement with citizens and civil society, the Government of Canada intends to ensure that programs and services are designed and delivered to meet the needs and priorities of Canadians. This begins by enhancing the availability of data and information to inform active civic participation. It matures when citizens and civil society are empowered to voice their insights and opinions, and governments demonstrate their willingness to meaningfully incorporate that public feedback as part of decision-making processes.

In its Action Plan, the Government of Canada's open dialogue activities will focus on creating an environment that encourages and enables departments and agencies to consult Canadian with citizens and civil society organizations.

Next-Generation Consulting with Canadians

The Government of Canada will provide direction, tools, and resources to enable federal departments and agencies to consult more broadly with citizens and civil society in support of the development and delivery of government policies and programs.

Modern technology has enabled governments to connect faster and more easily with citizens. Given Canada's geographic diversity, federal departments and agencies often face a challenge in conducting wide-ranging consultations with Canadians from diverse areas of the country and backgrounds. Evolving technological solutions can help government departments and agencies better consult with citizens and civil society on a wide range of policy, program, and regulatory issues. The result will be a more informed society on government programs and direction, and improved policy development for the government.

To meet this challenge, the Government of Canada will develop new and innovative approaches and solutions to enable Canadians to more easily take part in federal consultations of interest to them. The government will also develop a set of principles and procedures to guide consultation processes in order to increase the consistency and effectiveness of public consultations across government. As a result, Canadians will be more aware of the opportunities to engage with their government, will have consistent, advanced notice of government consultations, and will have access to easy-to-use solutions for providing their ideas on federal programs and services.

Deliverables to be completed in 2014-2016:
  • Launch a renewed Consulting Canadians site to facilitate easier access to information on federal consultation activities for citizens.
  • Develop and launch a new government-wide consultation portal to promote opportunities for public participation, host online consultations, and share findings from completed consultations.
  • Expand the use of social media across government to enable departments and programs to connect to Canadians in innovative ways and enhance engagement in support of citizen-centric services.
  • Develop a set of principles and standards for public consultations (e.g., advance notice, effective use of social media, reporting on results), including setting out minimum benchmarks for consultations.

Lead: Privy Council Office, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Grand Challenges: GC1

V. Conclusion

The Government of Canada continues to be committed to Open Government and its role as a dedicated member of the Open Government Partnership. We support the principles of the OGP which we believe will propel innovation, economic opportunity, and deeper democratic engagement worldwide.

Canada's Action Plan on Open Government will provide real opportunities to accelerate the transformation of our public service and our government through a fundamental commitment to transparency, accountability, and civic engagement. Our success will be measured by the impact our activities will have on the engagement of Canadians and their use of our open data, open information, and open dialogue services moving forward.

"The sky is truly the limit — and we are proud to play an important role in leading our citizens into the next stage of the global information age."

The Honourable Tony Clement,
President of the Treasury Board of Canada

Comments

The Government's commitment to Shared Services Initiatives is a crucial building block in the foundation and moving Open Data initiatives forward. With the formation of Shared Services Canada in recent years the Crown has set itself on a course that will make it a Global example and leader in Open Data, the reduction of duplication and waste in government, the creation of the structure and policy that will enable not only the next generation of Canadians, but also make it possible for us to contribute more to more democratic distribution of information wealth and opportunity for all on a global scale. Working as a Public servant I am proud to be, albeit a small part of many Canadians in both the public and private sector, working towards these goals and objectives.

The need for RESTful Web APIs was brought up several times in the consultations but doesn't seem to reflected in the Action Plan. Is this by intent or omission? Such APIs are the most effective way of providing frequently-changing, open data to the next generation of innovative, data-driven applications. DataBC at the Province of British Columbia already offers many APIs and we are planning on offering many more in the near future.

Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government does not mention RESTful APIs. This work is part of the GCs investigation in how best to disseminate data. This work is being done through various working groups and current direction identifies a Representational State Transfer as the dominant architecture. Examples of RESTful APIs are already listed on data.gc.ca portal. GeoGratis is one of many examples available upon request. (http://data.gc.ca/data/en/dataset/1a0f011d-97a6-4c30-814f-aa8e694ba3ff)

These are great commitments and will go a long way to improving access to data. Along with many others, I look forward to access to government files and information being brought online soon, as existing openness laws need badly to be updated.

This is very good!

I'm a member of a Canadian startup that is developing a data integration and visualization platform. We implore the government - municipal/provincial/federal - to adopt the following standards:

1) machine-friendly use of tables (headers go in the first row always)
2) self-descriptive headers ('Date' instead of 'D')
3) standardized syntax across datasets (either always '20:01' or '8:01 PM', 'TORONTO' or 'Toronto' -- pick one style and use it in all files)
4) all tables should at minimum be available as CSV (comma-separated values)
5) API access (!) The public should have the ability to download up to the entire the catalogue in one batch -- plan for high bandwidth

Bottom line, the government's *priority* should be as a publisher; one which provides free, abundant, accessible, clean, current, and diverse data.

Thank you

Improving data quality is a high priority for the data.gc.ca team. We are working with departments all across the Government to improve the quality of data that is provided through the open data portal. Where possible, we are working to align with national and international data standards, ensuring that we are able to provide the most descriptive, current, diverse and abundant data possible.

The good news is that much of what you describe is on the roadmap if not already in our standards ( e.g.: the GC uses ISO-8601 for date/time for data designed for the web ). Where we don’t have a standard or common vocabularies our recommendations often include validators like csvlint.io to conform to common standards.

In the end we are also consumers of this data and the consistency you describe is a key issue for us to report on it efficiently.

This really sounds great. *Please* follow through on the Open Science; it's been flat out embarrassing of late in that area.

I like the overall approach here. I think it is headed in the right direction. I'm less comfortable with the "consult, engage, empower" motto beside Open Dialogue. It is too close to the IAP2 framework. Although it has served us well, I think it falls short.

Thanks for your feedback. The link to IAP2 was actually coincidental. We would be happy to hear any suggestions you have for wording. Please share your thoughts with us.

We welcome the positive features of Canada’s Draft Action Plan on Open Government 2.0, which include a strong commitment to open data and some important new commitments on the proactive disclosure of information. We also welcome the fact that several of the ideas in our Submission to Canada’s Open Government Consultations (available at: www.law-democracy.org/live/canada-bold-action-needed-on-open-government/) were picked up in the new draft of the Action Plan. These include commitments to increase the level of detail disclosed on contracts over $10,000, to develop a concrete set of minimum principles and standards for public consultations and to provide enhanced training for officials in understanding and managing their access to information responsibilities.

At the same time, we are disappointed to see that the Action Plan continues to ignore the most glaring problem with Canada’s open government framework, which is the structural weakness of the Access to Information Act (ATIA). Instead, the Action Plan only commits to ‘modernising the administration’ of the ATIA, which, while useful, is simply not a substitute for the necessary root and branch reform of the law. We note that CLD is not alone in calling for these measures and that this was also highlighted in the IRM report on Canada and raised repeatedly during the consultations.

Increasing the proactive disclosure of information is very important and Canada is showing leadership on this issue. At the same time, the access to information law is the backbone of openness in any country and Canada’s ATIA is sadly outdated and weak in comparison to other countries. We urge the government of Canada to follow the recommendations of civil society groups, successive Information Commissioners, ordinary Canadians and the IRM by putting in place a process of legislative reform of the ATIA.

While much of the draft is laudable in its ambitions, so was the 1.0 plan during which public documents (e.g., in the Library and Archives Canada repository) and publicly funded research (e.g., under Statistics Canada, Environment Canada and the National Research Council) were made UNavailable to Canadians, while Access to Information requests could take years only to yield a refusal of access.

It is worrisome that this government appears to believe "open government" means providing online access to information restricted --as to both quantity and kind-- to what is in the current government's political interest, rather than a willingness to make all aspects of government operations open to scrutiny by citizens and the media.

It is also difficult to see why a policy designed to inform the public and ensure the transparency and accountability of government should place an emphasis on the *commercialization* of information rather than open access to it, while it does not address the problem of reducing the capacity of government departments to assemble essential information such as was formerly provided by via the long-form census and long-gun registry, both of which assisted other branches of government in the performance of their functions, or the unwisdom of attempting to shut down significant scientific work in progress (e.g., the Experimental Lakes and PEARL projects, and archaeological work in Canada's north) which made valuable contributions to our knowledge of the world.

Obviously, the issue of personal privacy is extremely important to Canadians, but neither the census nor the registry led to such privacy breaches as, for example, the loss of drives containing taxpayer information by the Canada Revenue Agency or the improper disposal of unshredded documents in garbage bins when various service points were closed. (Not to mention such "security" measures as were, and are again, proposed to collect comprehensive data on every Canadians personal communications without legal warrants or proper oversight to ensure that such data is not left where hackers can get at it.) But privacy legislation was never intended to shield politicians or public servants from accountability to Parliament or the public for their actions: "open government" is meant to ensure that accountability and, though in some cases the names of individuals should be redacted (e.g., for their personal safety), their actions and policies should be open to scrutiny.

Nobody is disputing the value of fiscal caution and probity or the encouragement of new Canadian businesses providing additional job opportunities for Canadians. However, it is clear that reducing the nation's capacity to collect and study data and the ability of its citizens and their representatives to be fully informed about the workings of government runs contrary to the spirit of Open Government. As we in Quebec have seen clearly through the work of the Charbonneau Inquiry, a lack of transparency of any government all too often leads to corruption and the breaking of ethical rules, to irresponsible people in responsible positions, and to grossly inflated costs for inadequate services at taxpayers' expense. Any Canadian who reads the news is aware that such problems are not confined to Quebec, and that the government of Canada is not immune from criticism on ethical grounds.

Surely it would be in the nation's best interests to take the Open Government initiative as seriously at home as we recommend its application in other countries. I would encourage Canada to put itself in the forefront of this initiative by revising its plan so as to ensure that most government information is publicly available, faster, without excessive charges or need for legal actions, and with fewer supressions. Democracy is best served when the citizens are well informed, and as the saying would have it, "sunlight is the best disinfectant." If the goals of transparency and accountability are to be met even partially by 2016, Canada needs to build those aspects into its two-year implementation plan as priorities.

I thank you for this opportunity for Canadians to comment on the draft and trust that you will take their views into account in preparing your final report.

I write on behalf of the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption. We were disappointed to see that there has been no mention of a commitment towards beneficial ownership transparency.

Part of a strong anti-money laundering regime is transparency of financial transactions. One important aspect of this is full transparency of company and trust ownership, through Beneficial Ownership Declarations.

Canada has committed itself to the Open Government Partnership (OGP). It provides a great opportunity for Canada to take a leading role on transparency by eradicating anonymous shell companies. More details on why this issue is essential can be read on a blog we wrote for the Huffington Post entitled "Money Laundering Hinders the Fight to End Poverty" - http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/priya-sood/money-laundering-charity_b_57500....

The Action Plan’s commitments are significant and ambitious. However, it is important to consider not only what is in the plan, but what was left out. In a first section, we (Open North) recommend new commitments. In a second section, we recommend edits to existing commitments.

1. New Commitments

1.1. Open Communication
Open data and open science benefit from users having access to the people responsible for the data or research: to ask questions, confirm interpretations, discuss applications, report errors, find related work, or explore ways to add value to the data or research, for example. Open communication is foundational to open data and open science; it removes barriers to the reuse of published government data and research, much like an open data licence. Encouraging open communication supports every commitment. This human communication benefits from communications policies that support open and timely communication between data owners, scientists and the public. In tandem with the digital and pedagogical solutions discussed under other commitments, open communication helps maximize the impact of the Government’s open government initiatives.
[Proposed commitment:] “The Government of Canada will issue a government-wide directive on open communication to establish that data owners and scientists can speak freely with the public about their data and research, subject to applicable restrictions related to privacy, confidentiality, and security.“

1.2. Data Availability
Open data represents a “tremendous commercial opportunity,” as cited in the Action Plan. Businesses built on open data strongly rely on its continued availability; in cases where open data is mission critical, its sudden unavailability can cause the failure of business operations. Similarly, other levels of government, not-for-profit organizations, and charities rely on open data to plan their activities and measure their impact. Uncertainty about the continued availability of open data is a barrier to the commercialization and use of open data. In order to reduce uncertainty and promote the long-term viability of activities built on open data, the Government should adopt strategies for communicating the longevity of datasets and for handling the cancellation of data publication or data collection activities to minimize the impact on the operations of data users.
[Proposed commitment:] “The Government of Canada will complete public consultations with citizens, civil society and the private sector on how to ensure that open data of continuing value remains accessible and usable and continues to be collected.“

1.3. Open Contracting Global Principles
Under its Open Contracting commitment, the Government of Canada expresses support for the Open Contracting Partnership and its Open Contracting Global Principles. The Government should go one step further and endorse these principles, which open data leaders like the United Kingdom have already done.
[Proposed commitment:] “The Government of Canada will endorse the Open Contracting Global Principles.”

2. Existing Commitments

2.1. Implement Directive on Open Government
The Action Plan explains that departments and agencies will “be required to develop inventories of their data and information." These inventories should be made available to the public, thereby allowing the public to participate in prioritizing datasets for release, as has been done in the United States through Project Open Data and the United Kingdom through data.gov.uk.
[Proposed edit:] Replace “Establishing and maintaining inventories of data and information holdings” with “Establishing, maintaining, and making available to the public inventories of data and information holdings”.

While we applaud the establishment of the Canadian Open Data Exchange to promote the commercialization of open data, the Directive on Open Government, on the other hand, should not be limited to maximizing the release of data and information “of business value.” Throughout the OGP’s documentation, no value – whether business, social, democratic or scientific – takes precedence over any other. The directive should therefore not privilege business value.
[Proposed edit:] Either replace “of business value” with “of business or social value” or delete the words “of business value”.

2.2. Mandatory Reporting on Extractives
We look forward to the opportunity to provide additional input during the public consultations. At this time, we will emphasize the importance of providing single-window online access to the mandatory reporting on extractives. Just as the Government has made all completed ATI requests available through a single search interface, and just as it plans to provide single-window access to budgets, expenditures, and contracting data, the government should do the same with reporting by companies in the mining, oil, and gas sectors. The Canada Revenue Agency is a world leader in providing single-window online access to standardized data on charitable organizations. Natural Resources Canada should follow its leads in providing single-window online access to the mandatory reporting on extractives.
[Proposed edit:] Add a new deliverable, “Provide single-window online access for searching and interacting with information on payments disclosed under the new legislation.”

We believe the above recommendations will make the Action Plan stronger and will more firmly establish Canada as a world leader in open government and open data.

Thank you for your detailed commentary and suggestions for improving the draft Action Plan.

Concerning the availability of data inventories, the Government of Canada fully intends to establish tools and guidance for departments and agencies for the publication of data inventories, subject to privacy, security, and confidentiality. The Directive on Open Government, which forms the foundation of all other commitments in the Action Plan, will establish “open by default” as the mandatory standard for government information and data. Federal departments and agencies will be responsible for maintaining up to date data inventories and for regularly releasing new or updated data sets as they become available. This, coupled with the commitment to creating tools and policies promoting public consultation, will help ensure open data of continuing value remains accessible to Canadians.

With regard to concerns about open data applying only to data of “business value”, the term “business value” takes on a broad definition in this context, including data and information that document the business of government, decision-making in support of programs, services and ongoing operations, as well as departmental reporting. It includes a wide variety of data, including data of “social value”. Based on your feedback we will clarify this in the final draft of the Action Plan.

With regard to your comments and concerns regarding the commitment to Mandatory Reporting on Extractives, the reporting standards for Canadian mining, oil, and gas companies will be based in law and Input received during our consultations for the Action Plan on Open Government, such as ensuring standard formatting, machine readability, and single-portal access, will be provided to Natural Resources Canada for consideration during the drafting of the legislation that will support this commitment.

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Please consider including two elements when implementing the open data plan:

1. Include librarians in the standardization and implementation phase. There are many public and academic librarians who specialize in providing access to data, who should be able to provide plenty of lessons learned from dealing with good and bad data sets. Some of us are also involved in creating and evolving standards for expressing open data.

2. Please include _linked_ open data as an explicit goal. Making Excel or CSV files available is way better than nothing, but following the principles of linked data means that those data sets will quickly become much easier to interconnect (and thus provide much more insight) than as standalone data silos.

Also, I hope to see not just a list of peer reviewed articles by Government of Canada scientists, but open access to the articles themselves.

Thanks for the comment, Dan.

On your first point, we are working with librarians and information management professionals on these initiatives and they are well represented on our Open Government team. We strongly value their expertise and knowledge.

Linked data is a valuable target, as such, we are actively working with departments and agencies to improve the quality and completeness of datasets so they can reach four and five star data as per the Tim Berners-Lee rating system. We are currently preparing to release our first four star datasets that will lead us towards the release of additional linked data in the near future.

Finally, we will work to make as many articles available as possible. As you are no doubt aware, the world of open access and journal licences is a complex system. It is very difficult to re-negotiate terms and conditions for articles that have already been published. As we move forward, we will strongly promote open access and work on how to make that happen.

PWYP-Canada is pleased to see the government put forward a strong draft action plan. Many of the draft commitments demonstrate a clear desire to meet the overarching objectives of the OGP. In the following comment, PWYP-Canada provides guidance on how to strengthen the draft action plan on mandatory reporting and recommends the inclusion of a commitment on beneficial ownership.

Mandatory Reporting
PWYP-Canada welcomes the Government of Canada’s commitment on mandatory reporting. The draft text has a number of clear strengths, including the stated commitment to enact legislation, to include payments to all levels of government, and to include payments at the project-level. We also welcome the commitment to make data easily accessible and understandable.
Despite these strengths, the commitment could be much more ambitious. The Canadian government has already committed to most of the actions outlined in the draft text. The added value of including this commitment within Canada’s Action Plan 2.0 is for the government to demonstrate a clear commitment to a) ensure the data disclosed in open data format and b) that the disclosure is stored in a central, searchable repository.
PWYP-Canada asks that the Government of Canada modify the draft text to include the following commitments:
1) Create a central repository of reports that allows online access for searching and interacting with information.
2) Make data available in open and machine readable format
3) Develop a common reporting template or schema
4) Standardize reporting categories, such as payment categories, to ensure comparability

PWYP-Canada has drafted proposed changes to the current draft text, which are posted here: http://www.pwyp.ca/images/OGP_Draft_Action_Plan_-_PWYP_Proposed_Changes.pdf

Beneficial Ownership
PWYP-Canada, alongside other civil society actors, put forward the 'idea' of having an action plan commitment on beneficial ownership. This commitment is not included in the draft action plan. Under this commitment the Canadian government would create a public registry of the beneficial owners of Canadian companies. By requiring the full transparency of company and trust ownership, through beneficial ownership declarations, Canada will demonstrate a commitment to fight money-laundering and ensure transparency of financial transactions. Making this information publicly available, allows financial institutions, law enforcement authorities and citizens to track the source, movement, and destination of illicit funds, and to crack down on money launderers and tax evaders. PWYP-Canada recommends that the government put forward this commitment in Canada’s Action Plan 2.0.

PWYP-Canada welcomes the opportunity to comment on the draft action plan. There is a clear opportunity to strengthen the draft text and to ensure that Canada establishes itself as a world leader in open data and anti-corruption.

With respect to Item D above concerning "Consulting with Canadians", the indicated measures to be undertaken within government would appear to be useful however, they only go part way to ensuring effective consultation (and thus effective participation by Canadians in the governmental process). Many Canadians lack the means--technical, financial, informational -- to take advantage of the opportunities which are being made available. The result of this is that the outcome of these consultations is not necessarily reflective of the Canadian population but is more likely to be skewed by age, gender, location, level of technical literacy, and financial status in parallel to what we know are differentials in overall capacity and means to utilize digital media. To ensure equitable access and thus an equitable opportunity to participate in these consultations initiatives need to be undertaken (or revived) to ensure the means to make effective use of digital media including for activities such as this. Initiatives towards open access or open government must for effective democracy be balanced with initiatives towards inclusive access and inclusive government.

Your point is well received Michael. It is our intention to develop a develop a set of principles and standards for public consultations. These will include direction to target efforts towards reaching underrepresented demographics across Canada such as senior citizens, youth, and the unemployed.

The following comments are submitted on behalf of the Municipal Information Systems Association / Association des systèmes d'information municipale Canada (MISA/ASIM Canada). MISA/ASIM Canada is a national organization comprised of five (5) regional member associations representing IT professionals in over 300 municipalities from coast to coast.

MISA/ASIM Canada believes that overall this is an excellent plan, Within this context, we offer the following comments and suggestions:

1. While applauding progress on providing access to completed Access to Information requests, the dataset could be improved by including requests when submitted and by adding the time taken to respond.

2. MISA/ASIM Canada fully supports the Open Government Licence and promotes adoption of this licence by our members.

3. We applaud the intention to issue a mandatory “Open by Default” policy. However, issuing a policy will not be sufficient. Consistent promotion, training and leadership will be required to achieve the desired cultural change. We also question the reference to data and information “of business value” and suggest that a broader term might be found – e.g. public interest or value.

4. We support the requirement for departments and agencies develop inventories of their data and information and suggest that these inventories themselves be published.

5. We support the creation of the proposed Open Data Canada Steering Committee. MISA/ASIM Canada would be interested in representing municipal IT leaders on this Committee. In particular, MISA/ASIM Canada is interested in working with other governments on open data standards to be adopted by all governments.

6. We suggest that the federated open data search can be broadened beyond “the provinces” to include at least larger municipalities that might wish to participate.,

7. We support the creation of an Open Data Institute to support broader collaboration among the private sector, academia and government and to promote the commercialization of Open Data. MISA/ASIM Canada would like to be kept informed of progress in this regard and would ask to be consulted, as appropriate, to provide input from municipal IT leaders.

8. We fully support consolidating management of geospatial data across the Government of Canada, and suggest a subsequent action to improve inter-governmental management of geo-spatial data. Canada has only one geography and yet all levels of government maintain their own geo-spatial data, with substantial duplication of effort and resources. Since geospatial datasets are consistently among the highest use open data resources, further collaboration and standardization in this area could be an area of focus under the data standards initiative.

Once again, we congratulate the Government of Canada on its Draft Action Plan.

With regard to concerns about open data applying only to data of “business value”, the term “business value” takes on a broad definition in this context, including data and information that document the business of government, decision-making in support of programs, services and ongoing operations, as well as departmental reporting. It includes a wide variety of data, including data of “social value”. Based on your feedback we will clarify this in the final draft of the Action Plan.

On federated data, we added municipalities to this activity even before we received your comment. We welcome the opportunity to make stronger connects with all levels of government in Canada on Open Government.

We’ll also pass along your comment on geospatial data to our colleagues at NRCan. We know there is a lot of work that has already been done in this area but there’s still work to be done.

While the draft OGP action plan put forward by the Government of Canada has many important elements, Partnership Africa Canada would like to provide two suggestions on how it can be strengthened.

Mandatory Reporting
Partnership Africa Canada has applauded the Government of Canada’s commitment to implement mandatory reporting for Canadian extractive companies. Notable strengths of this commitment include the requirement that payments be disclosed to all levels of government, that payments must be disclosed at the project-level, and that the data will be made easily accessible and understandable.
However, PAC believes the government can take a few more steps to increase the impact of its commitment in this area. For instance, the government could ensure the data disclosed is done in an open data format (machine readable) and is stored in a central, searchable repository.

As the host organization of PWYP-Canada, we would point you in the direction of the coalition's proposed changes to the current draft text, which are posted here: http://www.pwyp.ca/images/OGP_Draft_Action_Plan_-_PWYP_Proposed_Changes.pdf

Beneficial Ownership
Despite having been proposed by several organizations, a commitment to improve the transparency of the beneficial owners of corporate entities is not included in the draft action plan. Under this commitment the Canadian government would create a public registry of the beneficial owners of Canadian companies. By requiring the full transparency of company and trust ownership, through beneficial ownership declarations, Canada would demonstrate a commitment to fight money-laundering and other illicit forms of financial activity, and ensure transparency of financial transactions. Making this information publicly available allows financial institutions, law enforcement authorities and citizens to track the source, movement, and destination of illicit funds, and to crack down on money launderers and tax evaders. Partnership Africa Canada would like to see this commitment reflected in Canada’s Action Plan 2.0.

MiningWatch applauds the intention of Canada’s Draft Action Plan on Open Government 2.0 but it requires some improvements to fulfill its transparency mandate.
1) Company reports must be available in a central location to allow ease of access to the information
2) The reports need to follow a standardized format with standardized categories of information so that information can be easily compared
3) The reports need to be in an open data format that can be easily machine read

For true transparency we need to know not only what payments are made, but also whether companies may be evading taxes through illicit flows through tax havens. As a first step we need a public registry of beneficial owners of Canadian companies and trusts. A commitment to action on this should be included in Open Government 2.0.

This is in response to the e mail invitation from your officials dated October 9, 2014, with response required by 9 am Pacific Time on October 20.

Given the lack of time to prepare a response, this will be brief. It will also be brief because you have yet again chosen to reject any substantive change to the largest transparency shortfall in this country, the horrendously out of date Access to Information Act, despite this being not only our recommendation but that of every Information Commissioner in the country.

Commissioner Legault repeated this call on your very own website on September 19:

As Canada’s Information Commissioner, I recommend, as I did in 2012 and 2013, that the Government of Canada commit to modernizing the Access to Information Act (Act). This crucial commitment is the one element that must, in my view, be included in the Action Plan 2.0.

http://data.gc.ca/eng/Open_Information_Openness_Transparency_Accountability

You have decided to ignore the one element the Commissioner and many others (including our organization) have repeatedly identified as essential to any open government initiative worthy of the name. That speaks volumes.

To add insult to injury, you have not only failed to deal with the most pressing issue, but you have worked to actively make matters worse. In a policy which you and your officials somehow forgot to mention to participants in the consultation process, you have now made it easier for officials to push records into the black hole that is section 69 of the Act, which is the exclusion of any records containing cabinet confidences from release under ATIA.

http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/pol/doc-eng.aspx?section=text&id=12453

In an e mail from your officials, this move to speed up the blanket and unreviewable rejection of ATIA requests is presented as a benefit:

Officials are undertaking a number of other initiatives to further strengthen the access to information system. They continue the implementation of a new Cabinet confidences review process that has been streamlined and should result in less time being taken to determine whether a Cabinet confidence exists.

If this is an example of what you propose as “continuing to modernize the administration of Access to Information in the federal government”, please stop. It is transparently a move to create the impression of improved response times while ensuring that no information is actually released.

But perhaps this is to be expected from a consultation process where civil society represented 17 percent of respondents while government officials made up 42 percent.

http://www.law-democracy.org/live/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Canada.OGP_...

We look forward with interest to hearing what excuses for continued inaction you come up with in response to Commissioner Legault’s recommendations for reform of the Act when they are released later this fall.

What will the government do to promote honesty and transparency in the disclosure of beneficial ownership of companies to inhibit the laundering of dirty money?

The following inputs are inspired by discussions I have had with hundreds of public servants over the past number of months about Open Government 2.0. I initiated these discussions based on the meaningful alignment between the OG platform and the beliefs that I have held for years that better government will only come about if government changes the way it looks at and manages its information and data.

Open Government presents a great opportunity for this to happen. Beyond harnessing new technologies, Open Government is about a new mindset in information sharing, collaboration and re-use across the government. It is about how government functions internally as much as externally. It presents a significant paradigm shifts for public servants, the majority who did not grow up with a mindset of “open by default” or digital practices for managing open information and open data.

Like the electric car, Open Government requires more than incredible leadership and strong demand from innovators and change agents. It requires open and digital capacity on the shop floor that needs to be developed. At its base, it is about new capabilities and a new culture of openness within government.

For Open Government to be seen as more than a separate initiative and be integrated into the culture of government, I recommend the following three items for consideration as part of the Open Government commitments: strategic capacity building efforts for an open culture inside government; modernization of the data and information management (IM) regime through an Open IM framework; creation of an Information and Data Innovation Unit that delivers demonstrable change inside government through data and information-centric innovations.

My comments are largely similar to those I made during requests for feedback during the last round of consultations. While there is much here that is good (Section C3 on open contracting and C4 on budget information and data holds much promise), there are two key elements that are missing. Namely:

1. Updating the Federal Access to Information legislation.
For further details, please look at the Centre for Law and Democracy's letter. Canada's ATIP legislation - long touted as leading - has fallen far behind many other countries and is in real need of modernizing.

2. Mandatory Reporting on Extractives
While definitely a step in the right direction this proposal - as it stands - simply replaces opacity by lack of data with opacity via obscurity. Companies are not required to submit required information in standard format, nor are they required to put it in a single searchable library. The result will be a data set that will be hard to assess and compare, significantly diminishing its impact. It would be better for the government to have treated this like it does the National Pollution Release Inventory - which is a model that has been demonstrated as effective in both increasing transparency and reducing pollution.

My comments are largely similar to those I made during requests for feedback during the last round of consultations. While there is much here that is good (Section C3 on open contracting and C4 on budget information and data holds much promise), there are two key elements that are missing. Namely:

1. Updating the Federal Access to Information legislation.
For further details, please look at the Centre for Law and Democracy's letter. Canada's ATIP legislation - long touted as leading - has fallen far behind many other countries and is in real need of modernizing.

2. Mandatory Reporting on Extractives
While definitely a step in the right direction this proposal - as it stands - simply replaces opacity by lack of data with opacity via obscurity. Companies are not required to submit required information in standard format, nor are they required to put it in a single searchable library. The result will be a data set that will be hard to assess and compare, significantly diminishing its impact. It would be better for the government to have treated this like it does the National Pollution Release Inventory - which is a model that has been demonstrated as effective in both increasing transparency and reducing pollution.

Thank you for your comments and concerns regarding the commitment to Mandatory Reporting on Extractives. As noted in the Action Plan, reporting standards for Canadian mining, oil, and gas companies will be based in law. Input received during our consultations for the Action Plan on Open Government, such as ensuring standard formatting, machine readability, and single-portal access, will be provided to Natural Resources Canada for consideration during the drafting of the legislation that will support this commitment.

Ah! I see what happened. The confirmation that my comment has been posted happens at the top of the page. Not here, where I entered it and was looking for it.

UI - request. Please allow post confirmations to happen where the poster makes them, not somewhere else on the page (several scrolls up in this case).

Thank you very much for letting us know. We have sent your comment to our technical group to see if this can be fixed for next time.

1. Strengths and Priorities
Open Data Canada (B1), CODEX (B2) and Digital Literacy (C5) are strong sections of the plan. Focusing on these three areas will provide the broader open data community substantial support in its work to expand the use of open data in Canada.

2. Suggested Revisions
Open Data Core Commitment (B4)
• Expand the idea of data use in the community beyond hackathon events and application development. Two other core areas that produce vital outcomes are mapping and data analysis. Hold events that engage these communities. Data analysis is an area rich in potential for community participation in process improvements for government. Challenge the community with these opportunities to collaborate and support ongoing dialogue to show how community work may be applied to government operations.
• Look to other countries for event formats and ongoing annual events where collaboration could take place.

Open Dialogue (D)
• Include the use of data and open data when developing the narrative and materials for public consultations. Show participants the data that is related to the decision-making at hand, how it will be used in the consultation and how it was used in arriving at the final outcome/path forward.
• When designing the principles for consultation dialogue, include a section that requires each consultation to identify what is open for influence and what is not open for influence in the process. Use this information to select the appropriate mechanisms for engagement.
• Include communication mechanisms to follow consultations from the end of the process through to the policy impact, enabling participants to be politically engaged with the outcome when it gets to the legislative stage.

3. Suggested Edit to the Directive on Open Government (edit in caps)
“The Government of Canada will issue mandatory policy requiring federal government departments and agencies to maximize the release of data and information of business AND CIVIC value subject to applicable restrictions related to privacy, confidentiality, and security. Eligible data and information will be released in standardized, open formats, free of charge.”

This intention is explicit further along (in paragraph below) but also ought to live in the high-level directive.

“Maximizing the release of data and information will enable Canadians to better engage with their government, hold it accountable, support meaningful civic engagement, and drive social and economic benefits through the innovative reuse of data and information.”

4. Suggestions for the next public consultation program
• Develop a stakeholder list identifying who has been/will be consulted. Circulate the list and ask: Who’s missing? Can you (participants) invite them?
• Circulate consultation reports in draft to confirm that input is accurately captured.
• Explain in the summary reports where participant feedback was applied, where it was not applied and if not, why not. Clearly this cannot be done for minutiae, but it should be done for key points that were heard frequently during the consultation process.
• Develop high-level education materials to help inform civil society stakeholders as to what the open government plan is, what the history of the plan is, and why they should be involved in the consultation process. The concept of open government and open data is not accessible to many of these groups at the moment, and requires more plain-language information, outreach, communications and resources to improve this.

Finally, in the spirit of this plan and the value is assigns to data, I must include a request to reinstate the long-form census. A very recent and important related loss is the stoppage of David Hulchanski’s work on tracking urban poverty. This is but one example of the critical work that depends on the return of this census.

Congratulations on the work done to date, thank you for the opportunity to provide feedback and I look forward to seeing this plan in action and supporting it however I can.

Best regards,
Bianca Wylie

I like what I see. I hope everything is heading in the right direction. However, I do have some problems in what is being proposed.

I have a real problem with the words - "Canada's Draft Action Plan". The whole document seems to deal with only federal data. It does not seem to address how the provincial and municipal jurisdictions could be involved. Maybe the title should read - Draft Action Plan on Canada's Open Federal Government 2.0.

Really have a hard time trying to understand Figure 1 - Our Commitments

What is the difference between OPEN DATA and OPEN INFORMATION? In the Open Information Section, they are identifying certain groups of data-sets (Extractions, Budget, Procurement) that should belong in a Data Catalogue. In Open Data Section, Canadian Open Data Exchange and Open Data for Development are just a means of managing and displaying the various data-sets in a more understandable manner. They should be part of New Technologies.

Further, I have problems with this comment -

The Government of Canada will issue mandatory policy requiring federal government departments and agencies to maximize the release of data and information of business value subject to applicable restrictions related to privacy, confidentiality, and security. Eligible data and information will be released in standardized, open formats, free of charge.

Why business value? Are other types of data and information not important? Does a data-set have to have some business value? Most of the data-sets in various Open Data Catalogues, have no commercial value. However, they do have some esoteric value to some one.

Finally, I have a problem in understanding Digital Literacy. This area has nothing to do with Open Government. This is a social concern best handled with educational resources in the community.

Bottom line - all levels of Government should work together to achieve accountability, transparency and engagement for all Canadians.

We agree that governments at all levels should work together to achieve Canada’s objectives for open government. While our Action Plan has been developed at a national level (as required by the Open Government Partnership), we have made a point of incorporating collaborative activities with provinces, territories, and municipalities into our commitments. These are aimed at facilitating a “no wrong door” approach to open government data, regardless of which government owns it. For more details, please see the “Open Data Canada” commitment under the Open Data section of our draft Action Plan.

Regarding data and information of business value, we should clarify that this terminology takes on a broad definition in the context of our Action Plan. It includes data and information that document the business of government, decision-making in support of programs, services and ongoing operations, as well as departmental reporting. We will ensure that this clarification is incorporated into the final plan.

Thanks again for your comments.

Engineers Without Borders Canada (EWB Canada) welcomes this draft Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government 2.0. This Action Plan contains many strong commitments to increase Canada’s openness and transparency, and also highlights areas in which the government can—and should—demonstrate further leadership.

EWB Canada would like to take this opportunity to provide feedback on two important areas of the Action Plan: aid transparency and mandatory reporting.

International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI)
EWB Canada welcomes the commitment to increase the transparency of Canada's international development activities by broadening adoption of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) standard in the Government of Canada. Since signing on to IATI in 2011, Canada has demonstrated significant progress toward making information about how the country spends its foreign aid more transparent. EWB Canada is proud that this year’s Aid Transparency Index placed Canada 4th of 50 bilateral donors ranked.

Providing a full picture of how Canada spends its aid budget by ensuring all aid spending ministries report to IATI was one of EWB Canada and Publish What You Pay’s central recommendations for improving Canada’s aid transparency performance. We are pleased to see a commitment to do just that reflected in this Action Plan. We recommend that the government ensure this is achieved by including in the Action Plan specific milestones/deliverables for other aid spending departments (eg Finance) to achieve within the 2014-16 period.

Mandatory Reporting

EWB Canada commends the government’s decision to further solidify its commitment to establish mandatory reporting standards for Canadian mining, oil and gas companies by including this in the Action Plan. We are particularly pleased that this commitment will lead to legislation that applies to payments to all levels of government, disaggregated by project, both at home and abroad.

However, the present commitment on mandatory reporting falls short of providing the foundation required to make this information truly “easily accessible and understandable by the public”. Transparency alone does not equal accessibility. In order to fulfill this vital component, the Government of Canada must ensure that the data disclosed by companies is available in an open, standardized and machine-readable format (eg CSV or XML) and stored in a central repository that is searchable by year and company. The inclusion of such a commitment would be in line with the UK’s approach to mandatory reporting in its most recent national plan.

EWB Canada strongly urges the government to demonstrate further leadership by committing to include the above elements and lay the foundation for a system that ensures information about extractive companies’ payment to governments is truly accessible by the intended audience: the public.

Publish What You Pay Canada has drafted proposed changes that the government should include to make this a reality: http://www.pwyp.ca/images/OGP_Draft_Action_Plan_-_PWYP_Proposed_Changes.pdf

EWB Canada would like to thank the government for this opportunity to provide input into the draft Action Plan. We hope the government will take the comments provided by EWB Canada and others into strong account when drafting the final Action Plan, and fully leverage this opportunity for Canada to play a greater leadership role in the global movement towards increased openness for greater accountability and anti-corruption.

As a Canadian citizen I write on behalf of the Natural Resource Governance Institute. We have actively participated in the development of mandatory reporting standards for the extractive industries in the United States and European Union, and welcome the Government of Canada’s commitment to put in place similar legislation.

The section “Mandatory Reporting on Extractives” (C2) in the Government of Canada’s Draft Action Plan on Open Government 2.0 includes a number of positive commitments: to enact legislation, to include the disclosure of payments to all levels of government and to include the disclosure of payments at the project level. However, a number of crucial elements are missing which will prevent the government from achieving the stated objective of making the data “easily accessible and understandable”.

For the Government of Canada’s extractives section within its Action Plan 2.0 to add real value and to be in line with the principles of the G8 Open Data Charter (to which Canada is a signatory), we strongly recommend that the following commitments are added:

1) Commit to create a central repository where all extractive company reports are filed and accessible. The data should be searchable by year and company, and available in CSV or XML formats.
• The ability to access and comprehend this important data on payments to government will be undermined if the reports are only available on potentially hundreds of different company websites. Companies can be subject to mergers and acquisitions and cease to trade altogether which means there is no guarantee that the reports would be available from one year to the next. A central repository where all reports are filed and accessed in a common open data format (CSV or XML) is the only way to guarantee that the reports are publicly available over time and searchable by year and company.

2) Commit to ensure company reports are filed and accessible in an open and machine readable format.
• Publishing all data in an open and machine readable format is essential so that users are able to easily compare company reports and to link this data to other publicly available data sets to improve understanding.

3) Commit to a common reporting template or schema
• Companies should be required to file their reports using a common reporting template or schema. This will aid comparison and ensure that companies compile their reports in the same way.

4) Commit to standardize reporting categories
• Standardized reporting categories are needed for comparability and to ensure there is a common understanding and definition for each type of disclosure required by the legislation. For example, this should include standardized categories of payment types, government entities / levels of government, and a clear understanding of the definition of a ‘project’.

We propose these changes as edits to the text in the draft Action Plan here:
http://www.resourcegovernance.org/sites/default/files/CanadaOGPDraftActi...

Thank you for this opportunity to comment on the draft Action Plan.

Best regards,
Andrew Bauer

What were the apps developed during the CODE competition? How can one find them on Google Play and/or the Apple apps store?

Can there be a link to the text of the Open Government Licence?

Canada has put forward a strong action draft action and I appreciate the chance to comment. However, there are several elements of the action plan that leave room for improvement. Firstly, there are some commendable commitments, such as that related to Open Science and Open Data for Development, however, there are some other elements of the draft action plan which seem to forget the emphasis within the OGP on civil society engagement and enabling data to create social value.

1. On the ‘Mandatory Reporting on the Extractives’ draft text, as the director of PWYP-Canada, I strongly advise that you include three elements: 1) commit to ensure that data is disclosed in open and machine readable formats, 2) commit that data will be disclosed in a standard template with uniform definitions and 3) commit to create a central repository of all reports, otherwise called a single access window, that allows users to interact and search reports. For further details of the required changes to the commitment see: http://www.pwyp.ca/images/OGP_Draft_Action_Plan_-_PWYP_Proposed_Changes.pdf.

Without these additions, the current commitment does little to capitalize upon the OGP process and to build upon the Government of Canada’s existing commitment to mandatory payment reporting. PWYP-Canada has been informed that a central repository of reports is simply too expensive. However, we see other commitments within the current draft action plan making this exact commitment. I believe that the true financial cost is quite small, particularly when considering the potential problems that will be created by simply posting links to company website, ie. broken links, little capacity to archive data, increased burden on user. Please see PWYP-Canada submission to the pre-budget consultation for further details: http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/HOC/Committee/412/FINA/WebDoc/WD6615327/41...

2. Beneficial ownership is a critical issue in the global fight against tax evasion and money laundering. Canada’s action plan 2.0 should include a commitment to create a public registry of the beneficial owners of companies. If this is not included, it would be helpful to understand why it has been overlooked.

3. I see a big challenge with the government’s commitment on CODEX. Firstly, the commitment fails to include all stakeholders – civil society and the public. Secondly, the commitment focuses solely on the commercialization of open data, rather than the societal value of open data. If Canada is to create a new open data institute, should it not seek to ensure that open data has the maximum social value? Secondly, because of the absence of society (civil society and the public) as key partners in CODEX, I would argue that the commitment does not fulfill GCI. While the commercialization of data may create new jobs, the link to improved public services is very tenuous. The link between CODEX and GC1 needs to be clarified.

4. In the commitment ‘Next Generation Consulting With Canadians’ the government should clearly state that principles and standards for public consultations will be developed in partnership with civil society and the broader public. Without a consultation and engagement plan that has broad public buy-in, this commitment has little chance of success.

5. On a broader note, at the OGP consultation I attended two things were raised: 1) that TBS should provide an assessment of all proposed action plan commitments and explain why some were chosen and not others. Right now there is no transparency in the action plan commitment selection process; 2) Each action plan commitment should have a civil society partner, in addition to any industry partners. This ensures that the government engages regularly with Canadian civil society organizations and that commitment reflect mutual goals and objectives. It may also empower Canadian civil society organizations to champion particularly commitments. I believe the government should heed this call and make reforms to the consultation and engagement process preceding Action Plan 3.0.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the draft action plan and for all your hard work. I think for future consultations, it would be better to have a much longer and more involved consultation on the draft (perhaps replacing the last round of consultations on 'ideas). As the draft action plan contains important details and can spark concrete ideas for improvement.

Thank you.

It's great to see a commitment to mandatory reporting for Canadian extractive companies in Canada's Action Plan on Open Government. I support the comments made by Publish What You Pay Canada (http://www.pwyp.ca/images/OGP_Draft_Action_Plan_-_PWYP_Proposed_Changes.pdf), specifically that the Government of Canada commit to ensuring that the principles of the G8 Open Data Charter are applied to the information disclosed by extractive companies under this new reporting standard, and that reports are made in an accessible and understandable format to the public, are in an open and machine readable format, have standardized payment categories, and are housed in a central repository which is searchable by year and company and available in XML or CSV formats. These features are essential for producing local information for local communities and for Canada to meet its stated intent of more clearly communicating the flows of revenues and enhancing the reputation of Canada’s extractive sector.

The Canadian Library Association / Association canadienne des bibliothèques (CLA/ACB) is the national voice for Canada’s library communities.

The CLA believes that access to the widest variety of information and points of view is critical to the functioning and evolution of a democratic society. Citizens, organizations, and governments make better, more informed decisions when they take part in a free exchange of ideas facilitated by open, affordable, equitable, and timely access to information.

It is with such values in mind that CLA responds to the Government of Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government 2.0 Consultation, with specific recommendations to support openness, transparency, and access to and the preservation of government information in Canada.

Open Information – Web Renewal

In light of the government’s plan, as stated in Canada’s Economic Action Plan 2013, “to consolidate the 1,500 individual websites into one website at Canada.ca”, the CLA strongly encourages the government to take concrete steps to ensure the preservation of online information. “Government information” does not simply include official reports, publications, and data; it also includes the vast amounts of web content generated by various government department and agencies on a daily basis. This online information serves as a clear record of the government’s policies and vast activities. By preserving this content, through web crawls or other means, the government will ensure the preservation of important elements of Canada’s policy and democratic heritage. It is important for researchers and members of the public to have the ability to explore the development and shifts that take place in government, evidenced by the government’s evolving online presence.

To this end, it is recommended that the government increase resource allocation to departments, such as Library and Archives Canada, to ensure that archiving, cataloguing, and digitization activities can continue in an efficient and timely manner. Furthermore, it is crucial that archived web content be made searchable and accessible to the public. Partnering with academic institutions or non-governmental organizations could be a valuable, complementary approach to ensure that all forms of government information are preserved and remain accessible in the long-term.

Consultation processes

The CLA recommends that the Government of Canada develop a series of consultation guidelines that departments and agencies are encouraged to use. Essential components of such guidelines should include varied means of consultation, including in-person and online, should seek to proactively encourage the participation of all members of the public and specialist communities, and should provide for a clear description of how feedback and input will be integrated into planning and decision-making processes. This initiative would be a means of ensuring a certain standard of consultative practices across the whole of government and would ensure that the public and civil society organizations know what to expect when a consultation process begins. With clear processes and defined and varied means of participation, interested parties will be more likely to engage and collaborate with government in support of both openness and transparency.

Access to Information Requests

The CLA believes that the continued development and expansion of open government in Canada should result in a reduced need for access to information requests. We are pleased to see the recommendation that government information, where appropriate, be ”open by default”. It is recognized that this may require a culture shift from within the government, but the outcomes of such an approach would be valuable for all Canadians. Reducing the need for access to information requests to act as a regular means of obtaining information will have the added benefit of increasing government transparency.

“Open Docs” Virtual Library

In regards to the “Open Docs” Virtual Library that is proposed as part of the current Action Plan on Open Government, the CLA strongly recommends that broad, external consultation on the initiative be undertaken and that the long-term preservation and accessibility of existing and forthcoming publications be ensured. It is recommended that the government develop a clear strategy for the digitization and preservation of historical government documents, to support free, online access to publications through the “Open Docs” Virtual Library. Preservation of digitized and born digital materials made accessible through the “Open Docs” Virtual Library is essential to supporting government accountability and openness. Given the easily changeable nature of digital content, the government should ensure that when updates or changes to documents are made, previous versions are not removed from the web. Original documents represent the historical record of government policy and activity and should therefore not be removed. Finally, concrete measures should be taken to address the digital divide that exists in Canada that may hinder the ability of Canadians to access online government information made available through the “Open Docs” Virtual Library.

There is mention of funding and tools for Canadians’ digital literacy tools which is something CLA has advocated for. We are encouraged and are keen to see the details of this suggestion unfold.

MCC welcomes the GoC's efforts to implement mandatory reporting requirements for Canadian extractive companies. We have been particularly encouraged that consultations thus far have committed to disclosure to all levels of government, and on a project-by-project basis.

To ensure the highest transparency standards possible, we strongly encourage the GoC to ensure that the location and formatting of data is accessible to local communities and end users. To do so, the requirements should ensure that a) company reports are available in one central repository; b) there is a standardized reporting template so that information is directly comparable between companies; and c) reports are available in a user-friendly (open data) format.

For further detail, we encourage the GoC to look to the recommendations made by Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Canada to the draft action plan: http://www.pwyp.ca/images/OGP_Draft_Action_Plan_-_PWYP_Proposed_Changes.pdf

My comments are focused around two of the commitments outlined in the Draft Action Plan 2.0: (5) Digital Literacy and (6) Open Information Core Commitment.

Regarding digital literacy, I applaud the inclusion of this commitment within the Draft Action Plan 2.0. This commitment is critical in recognizing that all citizens do not have equal knowledge in engaging with government in the development of public policy in a digital environment, many citizens may not even have regular access to the internet due to lack of personal resources or broadband access within their communities, and for these reasons, would be unable to benefit from opportunities resulting from increased availability of digital information and increased open government data. I agree with the importance of the first deliverable (“Sponsor projects to increase understanding of the relationship between digital skills and relevant labour market and social outcomes”) but, regarding the second deliverable, I would suggest that the federal government seek partners who have existing expertise in the development of online tools and training materials, such as those in the academic, NGO or private sectors rather than undertake this type of work in addition to core responsibilities of the federal government.

Under the Open Information Core Commitment, the deliverable relating to the “OpenDocs” Virtual Library is promising assuming that there is provision for long term preservation of these publications. For clarity, I would define publications broadly to include online web content, data, in addition to traditional materials such as published newsletters and reports noting that, over time, these publications may exist in various formats, many of which may not lend themselves to long-term preservation. We need to also undertake research and development of best-practices relating to long-term preservation and suitable standards; the preservation of these materials will be complex but considering its importance as a record of our society, is well worth the investment in time and effort. Unless I’m mistaken, currently the responsibility for online web content, publications and government records is distributed between Treasury Board (defining guidelines for web content and communications), PWGSC (responsible for the now-defunct Depository Services Program, publishing functions for the government as well as acting as a clearinghouse for distribution of government publications), and LAC (responsible for government records in addition to acting as the country’s national library). I would like to see one federal institution act as the lead for ensuring access and preservation to information generated by the federal government and suggest that this mandate, and appropriate resourcing, be given to Library and Archives Canada. Similarly to the deliverable outlining the intent to consolidate the management of federal geospatial data, as part of the Open Data Core Commitment, there is value in consolidating the management of federal government publications and I suggest that an additional deliverable relating to OpenDocs Virtual Library include the consolidation of the management of federal publications.

I support the approach taken for Open Science and look forward to seeing greater availability of federally funded research output.

ONE commends the Government of Canada for its commitment to open data, and appreciates the opportunity to participate in this consultation. While the draft action plan is forward looking and ambitious on several issues, it could be strengthened in a few critical areas, as noted below.

Section C, part 2: Mandatory Reporting on Extractives

ONE welcomes the Government of Canada’s commitment on mandatory reporting, and looks forward to the opportunity to provide additional input during the public consultations. The draft text has a number of clear strengths, including commitments to enact legislation, to include payments to all levels of government, and to include payments at the project-level.

However, the draft commitment falls short in its stated goal of implementing processes to require extractives companies to publish data on the payments they make to governments “in formats that are easily accessible and understandable by the public.” To meet that objective – and to live up to the principles espoused by the Open Government Partnership – the Government of Canada must ensure that the data is disclosed in an open data format and that the disclosures are stored in a central, searchable repository. These two measures are critical for helping the Government of Canada to achieve its stated objective of “increase[ing] Canadians' awareness about how extractive companies' revenues are spent, which supports transparency and social responsibility, helps to combat corruption, and promotes a level playing field for companies operating in Canada and internationally.” Achieving these objectives is contingent upon the public having the ability to easily access the large amounts of data that will be published by thousands of companies, and to be able to understand, analyse, and compare it. It is therefore critical that open data formats and a centralised repository are included in the Government’s plans.

ONE asks that the Government of Canada modify the draft text to include the following commitments:
• Create a central repository of reports that allows online access for searching and interacting with information.
• Make data available in open and machine readable format
• Develop a common reporting template or schema
• Standardise reporting categories, such as payment categories, to ensure comparability

Section C, part 3: Open Contracting

Under its Open Contracting commitment, it is commendable that the Government of Canada expresses support for the Open Contracting Partnership and its Open Contracting Global Principles. To make Canada a true global leader on contract transparency, the Government should go one step further and endorse these principles.

[Proposed commitment:] “The Government of Canada will endorse the Open Contracting Global Principles.”