Editor’s Note: Cross posted from OpeningParliament.org by author Greg Brown. Brown is a Program Officer at the National Democratic Institute, where he helps manage many of the Institute's programs on parliamentary openness and innovation, good governance, and civic technology, including OpeningParliament.org and the Open Government Partnership's Legislative Openness Working Group. Prior to joining NDI, Greg was an International Policy Fellow at the Sunlight Foundation.
The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is premised on the notion that sharing success stories can encourage further experimentation and reform. This is certainly true with parliaments, where the Legislative Openness Working Group (LOWG) has repeatedly witnessed the value of sharing information and experience.
To ensure that good practice is effectively captured and shared, the Working Group has collected comparative, global information on legislative openness practices. That information, which was crowdsourced from both parliaments and parliamentary monitoring organizations, is now publicly available.
Interested in comparative information on legislative openness? Curious about global good practice? Analyze the collected information, download the raw data, or contribute to this growing database at: beta.openparldata.org.
Capturing and compiling good practice can help advance reform efforts. By offering inspiration and guidance, these success stories can encourage reformers to follow in the footsteps of their colleagues. Comparing performance around the world or within a specific region can also be a useful incentive to catalyze reform efforts and empower open parliament champions.
Please note that the site is currently in beta, and the administrators expect additional changes to improve functionality and further clean the collected data. If there are specific features you would like to see added, or existing features you would like to see changed, please reach out to: . This is very much a work in progress, and your contributions and suggestions are hugely appreciated.
What does the site provide?
The Legislative Openness Data Explorer provides global, comparative information on legislative openness practices. The current data set focuses on legislative transparency, specifically what types of information are available and how the public can access that information. The core feature of the site is a customizable data table and map that presents the collected information using a red, yellow, green color scheme. The colored icons offer users a general summary of performance on a particular issue, and more detailed information can be accessed by clicking the colored icon.
The Explorer’s customizable data table provides a snapshot of performance in several areas of parliamentary transparency.
For those interested in specific countries or regions, there is the option to generate a unique map. These visualizations make it easy to compare performance between different chambers of parliament on specific issues, either regionally or globally.
The Explorer’s mapping feature shows mixed performance in Europe when it comes to publishing verbatim committee transcripts.
Thirty one chambers of parliament are currently covered on the site, though the administrators anticipate that many additional countries will be added in the coming months. If you are interested in adding data for a new chamber of parliament or country, please see this page. During Global Legislative Openness Week 2016 (GLOW), the Working Group will lead a campaign to collect information on all OGP member countries. Watch this space for a GLOW announcement in the coming days.
The website also includes a collection of good practice examples, drawing on the OpenGov Guide, contributions from Working Group participants, and related resources. This is of course an incomplete list, and users are able to submit additional examples here. This section is intended to help inspire and guide reform efforts. If you are interested in committee transparency, for instance, this tool will provide you with a growing collection of examples in that area.
This website can be used in a number of ways. While the Working Group developed this resource to help support the creation of strong legislative openness commitments in OGP member countries, it should also be useful to those countries which are not members of OGP. For parliaments, the data will allow them to easily gather examples of good practice, be it publishing draft legislation in open formats or streaming video of committee meetings online. These good practices can provide reform minded parliamentarians or staff with new ideas and and guidance. For civil society, the collected data will enable simple comparisons between parliaments, which could be used to inform advocacy efforts and incentivize openness reform.
How can I contribute?
It is important to note that this site is a work in progress. The site administrators anticipate making continual tweaks and improvements to the site and would welcome thoughts, comments, or questions. Additionally, users are able to submit new information on countries not yet covered, suggest edits to the existing data, or contribute a good practice example. For more information on how you can contribute, see this page. This resource was created by the global legislative openness community, and its usefulness will rely on the community’s continued engagement and support. For more information on the Legislative Openness Data Explorer, please see this page.
The Working Group would like to thank KohoVolit, a Czech and Slovak parliamentary monitoring organization, for their efforts and support. KohoVolit was responsible for building and supporting the design of the site.