Open data is a pretty simple concept: governments should publish information about what they do – data that can be freely used, modified and shared by anyone for any purpose.
This is particularly important in the fight against corruption. In 2015 the Group of 20 (G20) governments agreed on a set of G20 Anti-Corruption Open Data Principles. These principles aim to make crucial data public specifically because they can help stop corruption. Publishing this data would allow civil society to monitor things like the use of public resources and taxes, the awarding of public contracts, and the sources of political party finance. It would make it easier to hold governments to account and deter criminal activities like bribery and nepotism.
Transparency International and the Web Foundation examined the extent to which five G20 countries – Brazil, France, Germany, Indonesia and South Africa – are living up to these principles. There are individual country reports (see below) as well as an overall report.
The basic conclusion: there isn’t enough progress. No country released all the datasets required, and much of the information proved either hard to find or difficult to use.
Key overall findings
No country released all anti-corruption datasets
- France showed the most progress, publishing eight of ten datasets identified as key to anti-corruption
- Brazil was the only country to publish data on government spending
- No country has a beneficial ownership register – despite all showing some level of commitment to do so at last year’s Anti-Corruption Summit in London.
When released, data is not always useful and useable
- In many cases the data is stale and lacks granularity – making meaningful insights difficult to draw
- Access is a problem in all countries, with datasets hard to find and not all available from a single platform, meaning those looking to identify corruption need to dig further to find critical information
Data not published to open standards
- Only France published the majority of its datasets in line with open data standards
- This lack of standards makes merging and comparing datasets difficult – particularly between countries
Lack of open data skills
- Although some countries do offer some level of open data training for staff, these rarely incorporate an anti-corruption focus
Alongside the overview report, five country-level studies (Brazil, France, Germany, Indonesia and South Africa) revealed a range of shortcomings in national commitments to G20 open data principles. The graphics below summarise the main finding and recommendation for improvement per country.
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