German government screws up open data
OpenGov Germany, 4 February 2013
Last year, the German government commissioned a fairly extensive study (Link) on open data, and started preparations for an open government data portal. The open data community felt somewhat relieved. After all, lobbying for more open government in Germany, the cradle of prussian bureaucracy, is not exactly an easy task. This is a state apparatus dominated by information silos, dusty hierarchies, pen and paper workflows and an attitude towards citizens that often borders on arrogant. Bravo to the few change agents within the Federal Ministry on the Interior, who over the last months and years have closely collaboratored with a multitude of actors, including app contests and bar camps.
Here is what happened. Actors like the Open Knowledge Foundation (German chapter) had long ago built an open data visualization website (link), and had offered both the Interior as well as the Ministry of Finance, to actually provide that platform to them, basically developing infrastructure for the government. How nice. Community-public-partnership, real open government. What a pipe dream. Last fall, the Ministry of Finance unveiled its own data visualization website, for who knows how many thousand euros in fees paid to web agencies (Update: it cost 40.000 EUR, the original budget was 200.000 EUR ). It looks alright but isn’t as open as experts had hoped, and the amount of data is lackluster – tools for comparison and other accountability-encouraging functionality is missing.