Data generation “occurs“ in the course of an agency or department fulfilling its public task. Data that accrue are regularly processed in ICT systems, however, rarely with the goal of publishing the raw data. Instead, data are often generated without any regard for the data itself and its further use, but with a strong focus on processing the citizen’s concerns. Thus, data generation activities are largely uncoupled from the data’s extraction and publication. This has an impact on what data is stored and how it is defined, measured etc. Different vocabularies are not simply arbitrary technical determinations, but reflect differences in construct formation. Epistemology is often influenced by perceptions, preferences and interests, what poses future challenges for harmonising data across organisations and jurisdictions. Thus, the kind of data that accrue, how data are defined, what is documented and how it is measured is strongly influenced by professional requirements and conventions. Also, the quality of the data is only relevant if it is a determining factor in fulfilling the public task. Beyond, e.g. purely for documenting purposes, it does not seem to play a role.
The data that public administration accrues in the course of fulfilling its public task is stored in a countless variety when it comes to medium, format, location etc. Even considering only digitised data as potential open data, data storage is still very diverse. From data stored on a local PC to large data bases in computing centres, from a variety of proprietary formats used by different ICT vendors to some open formats, the diversity appears barely tameable. The particularities of IT governance in the public sector (Hunnius, Schuppan, et al., 2014) seem to play a role, where CIOs and ICT strategy units have difficulties to enforce coherent standards, as well as the role and importance of data management in the public sector in general. At least in the German case, public ICT service providers (Hunnius & Schuppan, 2011) that often run applications, store data and consolidate ICT procurement, have – to a varying degree – overtaken some of the roles here. However, a comprehensive overview of all the data within a jurisdiction does not seem to exist and it remains unclear whether it exists within the numerous administrative silos.
In the context of the public management reforms (Pollitt & Bouckaert, 2011) data has gained some prominence for performance measurement; also, so-called smart cities have put a strong emphasis on data and data management. Apart from that, it seems to have kept a low profile. The data are often kept internally within the department‘s or organisation‘s boundaries and thus problems, e.g. with data quality, do not become visible. Efforts to harmonise and share data across public sector organisations have proven pretentious in the past, even regarding internal use (Scholl, Kubicek, Cimander, & Klischewski, 2012). Even where data consolidation for internal planning processes across departments has progressed significantly, as in the analysed case of the city of Munich, consolidated data do not seem to be used for open data. Instead, separate systems and processes for open data are set up.
Stakeholders and their exemplary interests in data generation, storage and management
|Data owners – administrative clerks||Reliably collect, document and process all information deemed relevant for the professional task at hand and fulfil any further obligations in a way to satisfy the software’s requirements|
|Professional standardisation bodies||Develop and enforce standards to facilitate professional beliefs and constructs|
|Administrative departments (data owners)||Maximise departmental autonomy in compliance with jurisdictions ICT and data governance rules|
|ICT vendors||Develop and sell state-of-the-art ICT products and ideally create lock-in effects|
|ICT service providers||Ensure performance, security and efficiency inICT and data management|
|CIO and ICT strategy unit||Develop and enforce data, architecture etc. standards, coherent program management; facilitate ICT use|
References can be found here: OpenDataMonitor Project – Shared References