Ó Muilleoir: Open government key commitment

Date published: 25 November 2016

Speaking today at an event to mark the first year of the OpenDataNI portal the Finance Minister announced that the Executive has agreed to a range of open government commitments to strengthen transparency and accountability across Executive departments.  

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said: “I recognise the achievements to date in progressing the open government agenda across the Executive. Considerable progress has been made in being more open, most notably with the data and information that government collects and uses. Since the OpenDataNI portal was launched a year ago around 200 datasets have been published and there are over 1,000 active users per month.

“However, feedback from representatives from civic society and across the public sector highlights possibilities for the Executive to go further to integrate the principles of open government to deliver better services to the public.

“In recognition of this, the Executive has agreed to key open government commitments aimed at enhancing public engagement and enabling improved service delivery across Executive departments.”

Welcoming the announcement Colm Burns, Chairperson from the NI Open Government Network said: “We are pleased that the Executive has agreed Northern Ireland-specific commitments as part of the Open Government National Action Plan.  These commitments have been co-designed by government and citizens.  We look forward to working with the Department on implementation of the commitments.

The four open government commitments developed through a co-design process involving representatives from Executive departments and civic society include:

  • Promote greater levels of public sector innovation including seeking to establish a New Executive Innovation Fund.
  • Develop and trial effective open policy-making and public engagement methods including Government and civil society co-designing a pilot project to test open policy making methodology.
  • To investigate implementation of the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS) in the Department of Finance’s Central Procurement operations including developing a visualisation tool with contracts data as part of the Executive’s Open Data Strategy.
  • Open-up government for greater accountability, improve public services and building a more prosperous and equal society including increasing the proportion of public sector agencies to have published open data.

Department of Finance officials will work collaboratively with representatives from other Executive departments and civic society to implement the agreed commitments and track progress on the related milestones. The open government commitments will be included in the updated Open Government Action Plan due to be launched in December.

Notes to editors: 

  1. DoF Officials have engaged with representatives from the Open Government Network (OGN) to co-design Open Government commitments. The OGN is an alliance of individual citizens and representatives of community and voluntary sector organisations who are interested in promoting the Open Government concept locally and working with government collaboratively to develop a progressive agenda.
  2. The Third Open Government Partnership Action Plan was published on 12 May. The updated Action Plan will include Executive commitments and potentially those put forward by other devolved administrations and will run until May 2018. 
  3. The Open Government Partnership is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. In the spirit of multi-stakeholder collaboration, OGP is overseen by a Steering Committee including representatives of governments and civil society organizations.
  4. For media enquires please contact the DoF Press Office on 028 9081 6724 or email dof.pressoffice@finance-ni.gov.uk. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned.
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