Advisory Panel Notes from February 2012 Meeting


  • RSS
  • Cite

The first meeting of the Advisory Panel on Open Government was held on February 28, 2012. Advisory Panel members shared their insight on a variety of issues related to open government and provided feedback on the developing commitments that were being considered for inclusion in Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government. The notes below capture key comments from members on several of these issues.

Meeting Notes:

Open Data

  • Raw data supports innovation and development – this is true of geospatial and a wide variety of other data. (Miller)
  • It will be important to stress service to Canadians and the economic benefits of open data, as well as the potential to help create small and medium sized businesses. (Morin)
  • The Government of Canada should focus on prioritization of data based on what people are asking for, what people currently pay for, and what currently falls under data-sharing agreements. (Lainchbury)
  • There is a need to work on sharing public alert data. (Eaves, McKay)
  • Users should be able to distinguish between mandated Government of Canada data (used for program delivery and more likely to be sustained) and non-mandated data. (Eaves)
  • More user engagement and participation is needed to be effective (Pollock):
    • Government should work to create an “ecosystem” that ensures interaction/feedback on data (Pollock), enabling the clean up of data by third parties so that it can flow back to government improved (Howard, Pollock), along with its related metadata. (Eaves)
    • This interaction with users is tied to a transformation of how government works (Pollock), but may pose a potential issue around bilingualism. (Eaves)
  • Government of Canada should engage open data user groups to help generate taxonomies, determine relevance (McKay), and input on the next Request for Proposal for (Eaves)

Open License

  • There should only be one license, not three. (Lainchbury)
  • It will be important to get rid of the “legal” tone and language from the Open Government license. (Scassa)
  • The Government of Canada should remove conditions and clarify any “misrepresentation” clause (Pollock), ensuring that attribution requirements are not problematic. (Miller)
  • Copyright is root of the problem (Scassa) as licenses build on copyright law and government ownership of information. (Mendel)
  • Text in the license needs to conform with open definitions related to openness, open data, etc. ( (Pollock, Lainchbury)
  • The Government of Canada might also consider releasing government open source code under the same license. (Lainchbury)

Access to Information (ATI)

  • There is a need to modernize Access to Information (ATI). In 2012, Canada is behind both peer countries and many developing countries in the delivery of ATI, and Canada ranks 40th in the world based on recent assessment of its access to information legislation. (Mendel)
  • Also, it is not just the technology that is flawed, there is a need to fix the legislation (e.g. too many exceptions; should not charge at all). (Mendel)
  • The media has a unique role to play as a facilitator of ATI. (Howard)
  • The Government of Canada should consider increasing funding to the Information Commissioner to support better assessment of government activities to make information accessible. (Eaves)

Other General Comments

  • The Government of Canada should provide leadership on open government to all jurisdictions, remembering that Canada is not a unitary state and that provinces are different. (Miller)
  • It will be important to identify obstacles to open government. (Morin, Courtois)
  • Also key will be communicating to Canadians what open government is about (Morin), demonstrating its benefits (McKay), and showing how value is derived (with examples). (Courtois)
  • The federal government should say what will be released in specific, concrete terms, avoiding jargon. (Howard)
  • Centralizing brings openness, so there is a need to add “shared services” to the overall context. “Shared services agenda provides huge plank, gives GC a chance to do this”. (Jenkins)
  • Create centralized platforms to standardize and facilitate publishing but leave permission to publish to departments responsible for the data source as they are the experts for that data (British Columbia’s policy on social media is a good example). (Lainchbury)
  • All research results should be included in scope of open government, not just scientific. (Mendel, Scassa)
  • Reluctance to publish may stem from the sense that open publishing works against collaboration with the private sector. There is a need to push the publishing market and obligate open publishing. (Scassa)
  • Government should incorporate targets into a Directive on Open Government to drive action by departments. (Scassa)
  • It is important to talk about open government out in the open, post all open government plans and documentation as soon as possible, and consider streaming future Advisory Panel meetings. (Howard)
Date modified: