OPEN GOVERNMENT DATA: THE NIGERIA EXPERIENCE

24/08/2015

Open Government (OG) is about openness, which begins with process of transparency, accountability and citizen engagement for effective and efficient governance. To achieve and sustain this, all stakeholders must understand the overall goals of the process and specific roles they need to play.

OG can only be achieved when data/information related to government policies and decisions on budget, population, geodata, transports, etc from public sector bodies are made open and accessible through Open Data Initiative (ODI). However, Government data is said to be open only if it can be accessed, reused, and redistributed by anyone, for any purposes, including commercial reuse, free of costs, without any restrictions, using any convenient channel.

Open Government Data (OGD) is a system that allow access, reuse and redistribution of data that is relevant for government transparency, accountability and citizen engagement – budget data and legislative records, and including those data that can be used for enhancing service delivery – geodata, transport data, etc.

During previous administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan an Open Government Action Plan was developed through a series of stakeholder workshops and consultation sessions with government, private sector and civil society participants. The Action Plan specifies the range of investments already made by the FGN to strengthen open government in Nigeria, and outlines concrete commitments to tackle three grand challenges facing FGN; fighting administrative corruption, increasing public accountability and integrity and increasing innovation in government entities, civil society organizations and small business to better exploit increasingly available government data.

Although there is no single portal deliberately opened for OGD at the national level, despite the effort of the previous government to carry out such project through Ministry of Information Communication Technology with support from DFID and World Bank, some government agencies and institutions like Office of the Statistician General of the Federation, the National Budget Office and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) provides accessible data on annual statutory budget, statistics on employment, poverty, economic growth, GDP, inflationary rate and other economic indices on their respective websites. The data on these websites are freely available and accessible in a machine readable format that allowed reuse, redistribution and modification without any restriction. Social media experts, Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have been using data from these websites to engage citizens to participate in governance and ask questions on economic and social issues and demand for good governance. While the local and international business communities as well as investors have being using data available from these websites for production and investment purposes.

At the State level, Edo State Government, has taken the lead, through a programme supported by World Bank, it has launched an Open Data Portal (ODP) in September, 2013 the first of its kind in Nigeria, and first sub-national portal in Africa. For the first time, the state budget, including historical data, was published and made available online for citizens to access. The ODP provides an easy way to find access and reuse public datasets from the State Government, with the hope of providing a platform for improving transparency, catalysing innovation and enabling social and economic development. The impressive part of this ODP is that, it provides open data, citizen engagement, innovation, public service and institutional platforms.

BudgetIT and OroData are among the major CSOs and social media practitioners who usually obtained, analysed and published government data on their respective websites for effective citizen participation, transparency and collaboration, with the aim of directly engaging citizen to influence government processes, decision making and service delivery.

Based on the commitment of the current administration of Muhammadu Buhari to the fight against corruption in all its ramifications, it is imperative for the FGN to fast tract the implementation of open data initiative. So that principle of transparency and accountability in public administration can easily be achieved. This would enable anti-graft agencies to find data readily available to aid their investigation and prosecutorial activities in the fight against systemic and administrative corruption. Therefore, an OGD portal that is all encompassing with various datasets, analytical tools and info-graphics    from all arms of government and across divergent sectors of the economy will provides greater assistance in this direction.

It is however important, to note that, despite the numerous advantages associated with OGD initiative, its risks and far reaching limitations should not be neglected. This is based on the fact that, freedom of information does not negate other rights and should not be allowed to the detriment of legal rights, privacy and national security. – MURTALA BELLO BANKANU – KADUNA, Nigeria


Strategic Public Sector Human Resources Management for Sustainable Development in Cameroon

21/08/2015

Without critical thought, four loopholes puncture the efficiency and effectiveness of the public service of Cameroon… and there are many more weaknesses. But for the sake of space, let us snap on these and explain the benefits should the government decide to repent; confess their Human Resources Management sins and take necessary actions to improve the management of not only its public service capacity but work towards a sustainable approach of cultivating and nurturing students for future futuristic public sector jobs.

Cameroon lacks a 21st century clear cut legislation guiding Public Sector Human Resources Management. More so, the structured pigeonholed remuneration system is archaic and doesn’t work! The Public Sector Human Resources Management has, unfortunately– despite growing complexities and increasing challenges in today’s world; including the numerical explosion in the size of the public service — drifted only a few inches away from the stereotypic Personnel Administration system that had been, with the aim of serving their own colonial interests instituted by the French colonial administration through the policy of Direct Rule during the colonial era. The fallouts of Personnel Administration stir us unrepentant: economic stagnation, inability to accomplish up to 30% completion of MDGs and government’s development targets etc. Political assignments with the aim of winning over political opponents is not doing Cameroon any good; picking for instance, a law professor directly from the classroom without on-the-field experience to head The Ministry of Agriculture is argumentum ad verecundiam.

Cameroon must genuinely introduce Strategic Human Resource Management to its Public Sector if they were serious to become emergent by the target date of 2035.

No need to emphasize the far reaching positive consequences in creating a Human Resources Management Ministry and merge with the Ministry of Education; the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Management – to replace the current plethora of education ministries and the Ministry of Public Service and Administrative Reforms. Ever thought for a minute what the benefits would be to begin raising public servants from secondary school? This would, to a large extent kill disturbing proportions of career uncertainties faced by students; orientate and counsel students towards pursuing specific career options based on their academic strengths, passion for the discipline and other competences.

Strategic Public Sector Human Resources Management, SPSHRM would also allow for:

  • Close active professional relationship between Human Resources managers and policy, decision and law makers; assignments to top government positions such as ministerial, secretaries general, general managers must be merit based;
  • Passing comprehensive legislation on Strategic Human Resources Management that would not only be limited to public service but also watchdog sleeping private sector managers to help government realize development objectives;
  • Adequate HR planning that would ensure that the right people with the right skills are assigned the right tasks at the right place at the right time to the right benchmarks for optimal performance;
  • Dismantling the pay system on the basis of categories A, B, C, D and match quality service to quality pay system. Great and enviable remuneration package. Assessing and measure the performance of employees to influence commendation, incentives or query;
  • Enhancing the competences and capacities (skills, knowledge, experiences, motivation, integrity) of public servants through trainings and mentoring;
  • Diversity and inclusions of well qualified persons to complete regional balance and satisfy minority groups erases tension;
  • Human Resources managers of Cameroon’s public service must align their strategies towards realizing goals set by government and or regional / international organizations.

All of the foretasted would revolutionize and drastically improve Cameroon’s public service performance and output thus achieving goals set by government and individual employee goals. – Akoson Akotarh Raymond – Yaounde, Cameroon


Learner’s Submission: Open Goverment Data in Mexico

29/07/2015

“Mexico has a national government initiative to create a national Open Government Data portal in http://datos.gob.mx.

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Only some of the bodies of government have published information. Moreover, many of the bodies of government publishing yours Open Government Data within their own corporate websites.

Datasets published in http://datos.gob.mx, there are 490 datasets from the federal government, state government, local government and autonomous agencies. They are also a few Webservices of national metrology service.

This site also contains 43 applications.

Lot of datasets are information for the offices was easy to open.

Published data are mainly visualizations of information into geographic maps. Is very important develop applications that integrate different data sources, of government and the private sector, with the aim of obtaining new applications and citizens services.

Moreover, published applications were developed by government agencies. Missing applications developed by citizens.

The portal http://datos.gob.mx is a good initiative that comes from the government, but needs more applications and Open Govenrment datasets.

Unfortunately citizen engagement is incipient, the initiative portal exposes government datasets but lack the dissemination and communication strategy, for citizens use the datasets and generates more applications.

Mexico has additional experience.

INAI is responsible for transparency in Mexico, INAI has published several Open Goverment Datasets.

All “requests for information” and responses are available for download in Datasets open formats, at: https://www.infomex.org.mx/gobiernofederal/homeOpenData.action

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The datasets contain information from 2013 to 2015. Moreover, the information is distributed by sectors or topics  such as:

  • Agriculture, animal breeding, rural development, fishing and feeding
  • Social Security
  • Communications and transportation
  • Legal Counsel of Federal Executive
  • Technology and Science
  • National defense & Marina
  • Social development
  • Economy
  • Public education
  • Energy
  • Public Service
  • Information and National Statistics
  • Health
  • Public Security
  • Tourism
  • And other more

The datasets are located in open formats: SQL standard, XML, CSV and JSON.

At 2014/31/12, this site had 3,611 visits and 30,009 downloads of datasets.

The citizens interest for the information was: information of the marines, followed by funds to workers and national statistics.  The following figure shows the interest of citizens:

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Finally, it’s necessary to improve citizen engagement, to obtain mores services and applications than those provided by government. It will require more hacking events offering prizes to winners.” – Hiriam Perez – Coyoacán, México


Learner’s Submission: Open Government Data and Citizen Engagement in Nigeria: The Journey So Far

28/07/2015

“The system of Open Government Data (OGD) is evolving as a verifiable means of demanding transparency and accountability in governance. The civil society asks questions on their civil rights to be governed effectively and efficiently. This opens government books on budgetary incomes and expenditures, policy formulation and implementation in proportion to the yearnings and aspirations of citizens.

Open Government Data is the irrevocable release and authorize use and reuse of public sector information by all, either through technology or otherwise. In this space, the data is processed from closed to shared and then open. The concept systemically adopts Open Data, Open Society, Open Knowledge and Open Participation. It provides knowledge on how government is being managed, what information is in the public domain and how the society uses the information to hold government accountable and/or promote good governance.

The idea of open government has been embraced and implemented by many countries through policy formulations and transparency laws. The United States President, Barack Obama, introduces “Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government” which laid the foundation of good governance and citizen engagement in his administration. Nigeria is no difference, the country witnesses several calls and policy plans for open government and participation, of recent is the initiative of the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology in conjunction with World Bank and Department For International Development (DFID) to design a comprehensive deliverable action plan on open government to fight administrative corruption in the country, increase public accountability and integrity as well as innovation in public service bodies, civil society organizations and small business enterprises to better take advantage of increasingly available government data. This initiative encourages searching and retrieving government data freely, providing feedback and information sharing through a consultative and all-inclusive platform opening up high value datasets across ministries, departments and agencies.

The Freedom of Information Act is an added and legislated document upholding open data in Nigeria, which can facilitate open government and end the shackle of good governance affected by impunity and corruption. Although the Open Data Development Initiative of the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology has taken the center stage, there is no veritable all-inclusive national portal for accessing government data. However, Nigeria has an offshore multilayered OGD portal launched by the African Development Bank (AfDB) for the purpose of improving knowledge and disseminating information about the country. Users can access, analyze and share datasets ranging from economic data, development indices and socio-political data. The portal also enables visualization and analytic info-graphic presentation of data to the end user.

At State level, the government of Edo State has taken the lead in launching an Open Data Portal in 2013 to provide access to relevant, actionable and up-to-date State government data for use and reuse by civil society organizations, policy makers, business owners/investors, international organizations and researchers. The portal presents different datasets such as population data, environmental data, budget data, data on policy/project plans and implementation. These datasets are useful for business investors in making informed decisions to exploit opportunities for investment, and also for indigenes to engage the government on need responsive budget and projects.

The emergence of social media and civil society organizations like BudgIT and Orodata to demand for transparency and accountability in governance using civic technology explores the virgin area of citizen engagement to hold politicians/leaders accountable for delivering on allocated funds for all sectors of development. Therefore, OGD and citizen engagement are indisputable platforms for consultations with government and civil society organizations spurring positive and desirable effects for society at policy and implementation levels. Open Data does not only enhance transparency, but creates jobs, culture shift, healthy democracy, economic development, good healthcare and is a secret weapon to uncover the dirt in governance.

The impact of OGD can be maximized by involving all stakeholders and providing relevant and timely datasets with easy technological interface. However, despite the advantages of OGD, limitations and potential risks in national security, rights conflict and privacy data must be acknowledged.

Lastly, in the quest to rid the country of inglorious trends of corruption, Nigerians and Open Data enthusiasts look forward to a comprehensive National Open Government Data Portal with multifaceted and analytical tools of various datasets from economic, social, political, environmental, electoral, judicial and legislative/parliamentary data.” – Abbas Inuwa – Kaduna, Nigeria


Learner’s Submission: Current capacity status of public services in India and its performance

13/07/2015

” In terms of management of public services is concerned both Africa and India have one thing common i.e. colonial hangover. The British type of administration has left a legacy in India as well. Many acts prevalent today were framed during British rules in India and it is surprising that no significant changes have been made. The present government at centre is taking steps to make changes in many acts and bring it to parliament for approval.

Problem and solution in recruitment – During British time civil servants were chosen based on their education, skill with special emphasis on family back ground. Upspring of aristocratic families with track record of family being loyal to British raj was given more emphasis. Education was costly those days. Hardly children of common people could afford for education. It is needless to mention that those chosen bureaucrats were loyal to British raj.

After Independence the same system of civil service systems continued. Union Public service commission is responsible for recruitment of civil servants and other central service jobs, where as staff selection commissions is responsible for other lower and middle service jobs. Similar patterns were followed at state level.

No one can deny merit of such system. However, demerits outweigh merit aspects. Some technical experts like Engineers, Doctors, Geologist etc they are deprived of getting highest civil service positions. Civil servants are chosen through a competitive examination done by Union public service commission and public service departments are managed by these generalist civil servants. Whereas the technocrats after rendering considerable service never occupy the highest positions in department.

This kind of arrangement cause de-motivation among technocrats. So a right balance should be maintained while promoting generalist and technocrats to high positions in public service department. The recruitment rules should be amended.

Problem and solution in performance management system:
The age old system of maintaining CCR- confidential character report is still prevalent in public sector organizations. The problem is it is one way process. The supervisor will write his opinion about the subordinate. This report capture remarks about the subordinate officer’s performance and conduct. It is never shared with the subordinates. Based on such secret report, promotions to higher posts are considered. Present management system suggest about two way process i.e. mutual goal setting, mid- term review , annual appraisal based on agreed goal and feedback for improvement of performance. Modern performance appraisal system is based on the principle of individual development. It is quite opposite to the control technique i.e. adopted through CCR, secretly gathering information on performance and behaviour.
This CCR system is based on old personnel management technique of control and manages. This gives rise to favouritism, groupism in work places. Only favoured persons are given favourable rating, thereby guaranteed of promotion. Sincere, hard working individuals hardly reap benefits in such systems.
So this system of performance appraisal and reward in public service in India is weak area. Much need to be done in this area.
Solution- The department of personnel should immediately make overhauling of this system. Modern system of performance management should be adopted. Goal setting, appraisal based on goal, linking reward to outcome of appraisal should be adopted. This will do a lot of good to public sectors in India.
There are other areas such as gender sensitiveness among staff of public service, increase awareness about problem of disadvantage people at workplace are some of such problem should be looked into. However, as cited above recruitment and performance management are such areas which can be developed through principle of HRM. These steps will definitely help building capacity of people in public sector.” – Arkajyoti Samanta – Bangalore, India


Learner’s Submission: Online Public Service in India

10/07/2015

“The Banking Industry in India is now providing lot of online public services towards the nation.  Lot of public sector banks and private banks are providing the online public services.  The customers of the banks are operating the online fund transfers and other different type of transactions within a fraction of seconds from their suitable places.  So, we can easily say that the banking network has expanded their online public service in a broad manner for the people of India.

On the other hand, people are getting facilitated in transport industry as well in India.  Nowadays, we can easily book our online tickets through rail networks i.e. Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Limited easily.  We are getting the facility of “Tatkal” also for travelling from one place to another.  Apart from this, we are also taking the facility in booking air-tickets electronically i.e., through online public service.  So, we are living in an environment of information technology and getting a huge facility of online public service.

Of late, we are also doing lot of payments through online.  As for e.g., we are paying the electricity bill, telephone bill, gas bills, LIC and other insurance premiums etc. payments through online.  So, in case of payments, we are doing our work very easily without spending our valuable time and energy within a fraction of seconds through online.  So, the online public service has made our life very easier nowadays.

All we know that our independent India is a developing country.  Here we are getting the above facilities through online public service but lot of areas is still there in Government Departments where the online public service has not yet been implemented.  As for example, admission system in lot of educational institutions is still not implemented.  So, as per my opinion, it needs to be implemented at the earliest so that the administrative pressure can be curtailed in comparing with the time frame with accuracy.  Until and unless the departmental people of India is digitally educated, digital implementation is not possible for all departments.  So, we can say the we need the proper infrastructure at first including good human resources.  Otherwise it will not be possible for the Governments also to take proper decision for entire implementation of electronic government.

Though our Governments (State and Central both) are trying to implement their system in electronic form for all departments as much as they can, but still there is some lacuna of digital resources.  Hence, the citizen of India should take responsibility also with Government to make the mission successful for online public service or electronic form for all departments as much as the people can do.” – Tapas Kumar Debnath – West Bengal, India


Learner’s Submission: E-Government in Egypt

09/07/2015

“In Egypt, We see The E-government as the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to improve the activities of public sector organizations. E-government enables citizens to end their procedures of services from their home. Basically, these procedures would relieve the pressure and congestion of the governmental crowed.

For example, voting registration services which include all the population whom in the voting age. Also, the participation in political life to recognize the number and diverse of the civil organizations such as civil society organizations, cooperatives, trade unions, political parties.

The services which provided by the E-government include all of life and the civil, political, economic, social and cultural services. Effective E-government can provide a wide variety of benefits including more efficiency and savings for governments and businesses, increased transparency, and greater participation of citizens in political life.

The Ministry of Education has developed a number of electronic projects include e-government system and the Internet to link schools, students and teacher. Also to complete the development of a video system in order to link 57 meeting rooms in thousands of schools, as well as video conference system to link 27 provinces including Luxor. Schools were provided with computer labs and technology for the teachers and students .So that the program enables them to buy the costs of these materials by installments.

Smart Schools project

Within the framework of the cooperation by the Egyptian Education System which seeking to a modern communications and technology system, Egypt applied technological cooperation between the Development Center of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Smart Communications, and between USAID . The cooperation was to launch a smart school project and competitive participation (PFCE) in 14 Egyptian school (private and national and experimental) over 3 years.

This practical project was managed to integrate sources of information technology within the Egyptian Educational System, as it represents all of the computer network and the advanced media information for creativity.

In addition to the technological literacy, the project trained the managers and teachers on the project and the possibility of using the fundamentals of technology as a source of information to reach the level of digital mastery. Hence, I think that the main advantage for this project is to move in simplifying and facilitating the role of scientific material for students to train.

The project ensures teachers to create rooms with equipment by five teachers for each computer, and it provides them with the necessary technology to develop a lesson plan and also do the evaluation and administrative tasks.

General Tax authority

General Tax authority began a series of actions aimed to development and automation of all organs of the Ministry of Finance. So as to start of work on the procedures for the implementation of e-government, which provides many advantages while ensuring these advantages?

Consumer will save time and effort because of the current routine ,Provide the speed necessary for finishing services with efficiency and good performance As services will be provided by the E-government portal in this field of Taxes , Applications for a tax card , Add New Activity ,Notification of a temporary stop to the activity , Notify the interruption of a particular activity ,Notification practicing entity or modify or add partners ,Inquire about the balance of payments or ratification ,Notice to travel abroad , Notification to amend the legal entity ,Tax settlement, examination and raise the booking , Submission of a declaration for wages and salaries tax , Registration financiers , Basic data correction of Private providers.

The project aims to use the computer networks and information systems to facilitate and shorten the time to provide various services to citizens and investors (Cutting process costs), such as building permission and shops licenses .Also, the money transfer and receiving of services are available. (Managing process performance).Nowadays, it is also working to improve and increase performance and management level of other activities to the various councils local province then working in the link with the Cabinet of the province.” – Ali Adel Ali Ali Ibrahim – Dakhlia , Egypt


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