Saint Lu­cia’s Open Data

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

The find­ings of an Open Data and Open Bud­get Readi­ness As­sess­ment, un­der­taken six months ago by a World Bank team, in­di­cate that Saint Lu­cia is poised to suc­cess­fully un­der­take an Open Data and Open Bud­get pro­gramme. Ac­cord­ing to the World Bank’s ICT Pol­icy Spe­cial­ist, Anat Lewin, the pro­gramme al­lows for greater ac­ces­si­bil­ity to Gov­ern­ment in­for­ma­tion and, un­like closed data, has the char­ac­ter­is­tics of be­ing ma­chine-read­able, free, and eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble. It also pro­vides un­lim­ited right to re­use, and re­dis­tribute data. Saint Lu­cia is the first coun­try in the Caribbean to par­tic­i­pate in this ini­tia­tive as part of the World Bank’s pro­gramme of as­sis­tance to the Caribbean re­gion.

The four-mem­ber World Bank team is back on-is­land this week and has been meet­ing with key em­ploy­ees from var­i­ous gov­ern­ment min­istries and agen­cies to present the find­ings of the study, dis­cuss rec­om­men­da­tions for im­ple­men­ta­tion of an Open Data pro­gramme, and ex­am­ine the ben­e­fits of an Open Data pro­gramme. Some of the ben­e­fits listed in­clude pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion in the bud­get process, in­creased trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity, im­proved pub­lic ser­vices and greater gov­ern­ment ef­fi­ciency.

Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Sec­tor Mod­erni­sa­tion, Dr. Cle­tus Bertin, said the Open Data pro­gramme com­ple­ments gov­ern­ment’s pub­lic sec­tor mod­erni­sa­tion thrust, as it re­lates to data and in­for­ma­tion man­age­ment. “Some of th­ese in­clude the im­ple­men­ta­tion of a cor­re­spon­dence Man­age­ment Sys­tem which will lead to the im­ple­men­ta­tion of a full-fledged elec­tronic doc­u­ment and record man­age­ment sys­tem across the gov­ern­ment of Saint Lu­cia. Ba­si­cally what that would mean is that both cor­re­spon­dence and doc­u­ments would be more ef­fec­tively and ef­fi­ciently man­aged with the use of an elec­tronic sys­tem ... across the pub­lic ser­vice,” Dr. Bertin added.

The UK’s Depart­ment of In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment has part­nered with the World Bank to support the Open Data and Open Bud­get ini­tia­tive in the Caribbean through a twoyear tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance and ca­pac­ity build­ing pro­gramme. Bri­tish Res­i­dent Com­mis­sioner to Saint Lu­cia, Andy Pryce, noted that Open Data is cru­cial to fu­ture eco­nomic growth and strength­en­ing of democ­racy, “es­pe­cially for the chil­dren born in the mil­len­nium; who want to be part of the decision mak­ing process and who want to know what is go­ing on in their coun­try.

“Open­ness is an es­sen­tial el­e­ment of in­tegrity and ac­count­abil­ity in pub­lic fi­nan­cial man­age­ment. It’s ar­guable that if Greece had had Open Data be­fore the fi­nan­cial crash, it would not be in the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, be­cause that data could have been ver­i­fied.”

Pryce be­lieves that an “Open Data pro­gramme pro­vides a great op­por­tu­nity for gov­ern­ment to fill the ex­pec­ta­tion gap on trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity, es­pe­cially for the new gen­er­a­tion who ex­pect in­for­ma­tion to be avail­able on­line and ready to use.”

The World Bank Open Data pre­sen­ta­tion in Saint Lu­cia.

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