Open data and EITI

More Ambitious, More Challenging

The EITI Global Conference in Lima hosted several side-events, with the EITI Data Storytellers Bootcamp being a notable one. This event was aimed at sharing experiences and cooperation on the ways to use the growing volume of data produced by the EITI reports.

Workstreams of the Bootcamp covered different open data tools, software and portals to visualize, interpret and present information, including some useful hacks as user-centered design, data exchange and platforms enabling interoperability of disclosure systems. Combined, they could make information from EITI Reports more accessible, relevant and useful.

This event also indicated the increased attention of the EITI international governance bodies to the global movement focused on open data. Apart from Open Government Partnership, often considered as a sort of ‘sister initiative’ for the EITI, with spin-offs like Open Data Charter, the world now becomes more concentrated on developing robust government systems of data disclosure. Even the EU, a supranational institution has established the European Data Portal.

In Ukraine, efforts of numerous civil society initiatives are directed at ramping up the open government tools like the recently launched data portal, the portal for e-government services, and creating public registers like the register of politically exposed persons. As for the first UAEITI report, it has produced some interesting data, but CSOs united under the EnergyTransparency Association demand more.

As part of these advocacy efforts, DiXi Group advocates for adoption of Mandatory Reporting Law in line with both the Accounting and Transparency directives of the EU and the EITI Standard. This means not only project-by-project reporting, but also comprehensive disclosure from both corporate sector and government in extractive industries.

The idea came from the Ukraine regional EITI information sessions with communities asking to establish a mechanism for reporting from companies as well as local government authorities on payments, social programs and measures to deal with environmental impact.

Coming back to the global level, the EITI intention to enforce open data has to address challenges of a functional (deepening vs widening priority), political (ways to facilitate mainstreaming in resource-rich but not democratic countries), and technical (ensuring interoperability with existing disclosure systems) nature.

Finally, it also means that the EITI shall reposition itself in the integrated world of open data. It should find its niche among other initiatives on open government which have sprung up like mushrooms over last several years.

The EITI Open Data Policy is already based on lessons learned from both national and international experience. Global stakeholders should focus on its enforcement – in particular, as an essential part of the updated EITI Standard which facilitates mainstreaming of the EITI reporting process into government data systems.

 

Roman Nitsovych is Program Manager of the Ukrainian think-tank DiXi Group which focuses on promotion of European integration, market reforms and higher transparency of the Ukrainian energy sector. Roman has experience of drafting recommendations for improving governance of extractives and coordinates the UAEITI website activities.