Saint Lucia’s Open Data
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.