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The push and pull of open government

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Thom Kearney, Government of Canada – Open Government Secretariat

The 2015 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences is happening at a watershed moment for Open Government in Canada. In November 2014, the Government of Canada released its Action Plan on Open Government 2014-16, a series of commitments to sustain a more transparent and accountable government. More recently, the third International Open Data Conference, hosted by the Government of Canada, the World Bank, and the International Development Research Centre, took place on May 29, 2015, in Ottawa.

At its core, Open Government is about giving Canadians free access to more public information in formats that are easy to use. The direction set by the Action Plan and illuminated by the Conference will improve the flow of information between government and Canadians, including researchers, academics, journalists, not-for-profits, interested citizens, entrepreneurs, and many others.

The push: open data

The recently mandated open by default approach of the Directive on Open Government will mean increased access to data collected by the Government of Canada. Over the implementation period, there is an opportunity to steer the prioritization of dataset releases. On Sunday, May 31, the Government of Canada will be at the Congress Expo seeking your input on how to prioritize the release of data. We want to hear your thoughts on what makes data valuable and how you would manage the trade-off between speed and quality.

The pull: consulting Canadians

Public policy issues are exceedingly complex, and the civic community has more interest and capacity to contribute than ever before. In the next few years, there will be a greater range of tools and resources to enable the Government of Canada to consult more broadly, and we want to bring Canadians’ expertise and research into the decision-making process. To get there, we also want to be inclusive and transparent about deciding how we engage. On Thursday, June 4, the Government of Canada will be at the Congress Expo to listen to your thoughts on core principles and performance metrics for consulting with Canadians.

We recognize the value that communities like the ones gathering at the Congress can bring to Canada by making use of open data from Canada’s Open Government Portal or by sharing knowledge with those developing policies and programs through engagement.

We invite you to join the discussion during our two sessions hosted at the Congress:

Open dialogue on open government – Opening up the data: Sunday, May 31, 1-2 p.m.

Open dialogue on open government – Principles and guidelines: Thursday, June 4, 9-10 a.m. 

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Congress of the Humanities and Social SciencesCongress 2015