1. Introduction and Background
This report offers a self-assessment of progress on Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government 2014-16, Canada’s second open government plan to the Open Government Partnership (OGP). The plan sought to advance a series of commitments to help modernize how Government operates to reflect the evolving values and expectations of Canadians.
Canada’s 2014-16 Plan was launched on . It was built around three streams of activity to structure our work:
- Open data – making raw data available in machine-ready formats to be used by Canadians;
- Open information – proactively releasing information on Government activities, and making it more accessible; and
- Open dialogue – providing the opportunity for two-way dialogue with the Government of Canada and its citizens on the development and delivery of policies and priorities.
The plan highlighted twelve commitments with deliverables and activities designed to increase transparency, civic participation, public accountability and access to new technologies for openness. The commitments focused on improvements in the OGP Grand Challenge areas of: improving public services; increasing public integrity; more effectively managing public resources; and, increasing corporate accountability.
This first End-of-term Self-assessment report is part of Canada’s commitment to the OGP. It outlines the implementation process for the completed 2014-16 Plan and summarizes progress achieved and lessons learned with regards to Canada’s objectives for 2014-2016.
2. Action Plan Process
In developing the 2014-16 Plan, Canada sought to apply lessons learned during implementation of the first two-year plan in an effort to ensure that the plan reflected Canadians’ concerns and priorities.
In 2014, Canadians, civil society organizations, government departments and agencies, academics, and the private sector across the country were invited to participate in online and in-person consultation events to explore potential open government activities, refine them into a set of commitments, and define concrete actions for each. The action plan was posted online for public review and comment. All the feedback received from online comments or in-person sessions was compiled into a “What We Heard” summary report published in .
Canada’s open government platform, Open.Canada.ca, was an important tool in developing and delivering the 2014-16 Plan. It served to disseminate information and collect views, opinions and priorities from citizens and civil society, and to encourage continuous conversations on topics of interest to Canadian stakeholders. Canada regularly sought and received input from the public and from civil society, academic, and private sector experts on the development and delivery of past and present open government action plans.
The Open Government team learned numerous important lessons in delivering the 2014-16 Plan. For example, it became clear that citizens feel strongly that broad public engagement must be an essential component of open government, both in developing and implementing initiatives. We determined that engagement works best when we ask questions that help us define problems, not just consult on solutions to pre-selected issues. We learned that for government departments to put open government policies and practices in place, clear and consistent guidance and standards are required. We discovered that limited financial and human resources sometimes constrained the team’s ability to deliver fully on all commitments. Finally, we learned that the amount of cultural and process transformation needed within the Government of Canada’s working environment is greater than originally thought.
Integrating all these lessons has been challenging. For example, the broad commitment to meaningfully engage citizens on all elements of developing and implementing open government commitments requires more effort than was able to be provided in delivering on the 2014-16 Plan. However, these lessons have informed our current 2016-2018 Plan and additional resources are being allocated to support the Government’s ambitions.
This report reflects the Government of Canada’s assessment of progress in delivering our action plan commitments. A draft of Canada’s self-assessment was shared online for public review, comments, and input over a two-week period. Invitations to review were sent from the Government of Canada’s Open Government Secretariat mailing list, and civil society stakeholders were directly invited to share their views on Canada’s progress over the two-year timeframe. Additional feedback on the Government’s continuing work to become more transparent and accountable is always welcome via the Open.Canada.ca site.
3. Independent Reporting Mechanism Recommendations
With the 2014-16 Plan, the Government of Canada looked to address many of the recommendations made by the OGP’s Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) researcher regarding the development and delivery of the 2012-14 Plan. In creating commitments that were more specific and ambitious than in the past, Canada was better able to engage interested stakeholders in productive dialogue, as well as to measure progress more effectively. Expanding open government initiatives beyond open data allowed Canada to make more information of interest available to citizens, including providing single window access to information that is proactively disclosed by departments and agencies.
The Open Government team also responded to IRM recommendations by committing to improved public consultation and citizen engagement. In doing so, we shared our progress on specific commitments with more than just government entities. For example, we engaged with provincial, territorial, and municipal governments as co-chair of the Open Data Canada Working Group. In , open government leaders from governments across Canada met in Saint John, New Brunswick to discuss future priorities for open data in Canada. We also engaged with Canadian and foreign stakeholders on aid transparency, a measure that was part of our open data core commitment, during extensive consultations that took place on Canada’s International Assistance Review over spring and summer 2016.
We also recognized the opportunity to modernize elements of our legislative framework. In , the Government announced that it would take a two-step approach to revitalize access to information: first, it will move forward in the near term on concrete proposals to improve the Act, followed by a full review of the Act in 2018. To make early progress on its plans, in , the President of the Treasury Board issued an Interim Directive on the Administration of the Access to Information Act. The Directive directs federal officials to take into account the purpose of the Act – strengthening the accountability of government to its citizens – when administering the Act; to waive all access to information fees apart from the $5 filing fee; and to release information in user friendly formats whenever possible. The Interim Directive sends a strong message across federal institutions that government information belongs to the people it serves and should be open by default.
In and , we consulted Canadians and stakeholders on how best to implement initial proposals to revitalize access to information. Feedback from Canadians and stakeholders will be helpful to the upcoming reforms of the Act. The Government has committed to bring forward changes to improve access to information in early 2017.
Finally, consistent with IRM recommendations, the Open Government team increased our ambition to help lead a progressive shift to government that is open by default. The Government of Canada extended efforts beyond the Open Government team in support of this process, committing to improvements across a broad mix of departments in the areas of transparency, accountability, and responsiveness.
4. Implementation of Action Plan Commitments
This table provides a summary of the status of Canada’s implementation of its 2014-16 Plan commitments as of . The commitment title links to the detail page for that commitment.
|Action Plan Commitment||Overall Status|
|1. Directive on Open Government||Substantial|
|Open Data Commitments|
|2. Open Data Canada||Incomplete|
|3. Canadian Open Data Exchange (ODX)||Substantial|
|4. Open Data for Development (OD4D)||Complete|
|5. Open Data Core Action Plan Commitment||Complete|
|Open Information Commitments|
|6. Open Science||Substantial|
|7. Mandatory Reporting on Extractives||Substantial|
|8. Open Contracting||Substantial|
|9. Open Information on Budgets and Expenditures||Substantial|
|10. Digital Literacy||Substantial|
|11. Open Information Core Action Plan Commitment||Substantial|
|Open Dialogue Commitments|
|12. Consulting with Canadians||Incomplete|
5. Conclusion and Next Steps
In the spirit of the OGP, Canada made ambitious commitments in its 2014-16 Plan. Despite best efforts, Canada did not meet all of its goals. This End-of-term Self-assessment report attempts to highlight our successes but also ensure transparency in sharing our hard-earned lessons.
This End-of-term Self-assessment report is one way in which citizens and stakeholders can monitor Canada’s progress on meeting its action plan commitments. The 2014-2016 Plan experimented with new and innovative open government activities, and started to lay the foundation towards greater openness and transparency.
Canada continues to strive toward transforming the work environment, processes, and culture of the public service into one where programs, services, and information are both open by default and open by design. The Government of Canada is working closely with civil society and Canadians to provide greater insight into how government operates and foster greater participation and dialogue around government activities. As this report demonstrates, the commitment to advancing open government is shared across federal departments and agencies. In the future, the Government of Canada will look to deepen engagement and collaboration with other orders of government, civil society, and implicated stakeholders.
Canada’s open government efforts drove change across the federal public service. There was significant progress on implementing the 2014-16 Plan on open government, but there is still much to be done in the coming years to deliver on increasingly ambitious commitments to Canadians.
Tell us what you think. Let the Open Government team know your thoughts on this report, and on what Canada accomplished. Give us ideas that can help us overcome the challenges we face. You can always reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the medium term, we aim to begin embedding open government practices in mainstream, Government of Canada processes, policies, and programs. The goal is to increasingly apply an open government lens to policy and program development and implementation.
Going forward, the Government of Canada is committed to accelerating, expanding, and enhancing its transparency and accountability. This commitment is reflected in Canada’s new plan for 2016-2018, the Third Biennial Plan to the Open Government Partnership.
Annex: Addressing OGP Grand Challenges
Each of the commitments in Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government 2014-16 provides support to one or more of the five Grand Challenges identified by the Open Government Partnership (OGP):
|GC1 table 1 note 1||GC2 table 1 note 2||GC3 table 1 note 3||GC4 table 1 note 4||GC5 table 1 note 5|
Table 1 Notes
|1. Directive on Open Government||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Open data commitments|
|2. Open Data Canada||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|3. Canadian Open Data Exchange (ODX)||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|4. Open Data for Development (OD4D)||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|5. Open Data Core Commitment||Yes||No||Yes||No||No|
|Open information commitments|
|6. Open Science||Yes||No||Yes||No||No|
|7. Mandatory Reporting on Extractives||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|8. Open Contracting||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|9. Open Info on Budgets & Expenditures||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|10. Digital Literacy||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|11. Open Information Core Commitment||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Open dialogue commitments|
|12. Consulting with Canadians||Yes||No||No||No||No|