The Public Administration’s efforts to make Public Sector Information more Accessible (2018:2)
Statskontoret, the Swedish Agency for Public Management, has conducted on behalf of the Government a collective follow-up of the public sector’s work relating to making documents more accessible, in order to enable others to re-use them. The results of the follow-up are based largely on questionnaire surveys directed at national government agencies, municipalities and county councils. In addition, we have also interviewed parties who have knowledge and insight into the public sector’s efforts to make the information they retain accessible.
The PSI Act has had a slight impact
The impact of the Swedish Re-utilisation of Public Sector Information Act (“PSI Act”) (Lagen (2010:566) om vidareutnyttjande av handlingar från den offentliga förvaltningen) is relatively limited. Statskontoret’s analysis shows that one-half of the municipalities and county councils and one-third of the government agencies lack knowledge of the PSI Act and what it means. The analysis also shows that only one-fifth of the government agencies, municipalities and county councils have published a so-called PSI list, which according to the PSI Act they are required to do.
The results from Statskontoret’s investigation show that the vast majority of the government agencies, municipalities and county councils do not impose a charge when they provide documents electronically. However, among those relatively few who do request a fee, they do so based on the PSI Act’s principle of “marginal cost” when calculating the fee. Approximately one-in-four government agencies, municipalities and county councils also state that they are uncertain how to interpret the rules for charging fees.
Long before the administration meets the Government’s ambition for possibilities for re-utilisation
The ambition of the Government is to make it as simple as possible for as many as possible to benefit from the value of the information held by the public administration.
Statskontoret’s analysis shows that most government agencies, municipalities and county councils publish only a small portion of their public, digital information on their websites. There are also few who use the recommended metadata standard or make their data searchable via the national data portal. The engagement in and the commitment with the efforts is also low. About 40 percent of the government agencies and 60 percent of the municipalities and county councils have not implemented any specific measures to make their information more accessible for reuse.
Large variation between different parties
The analysis Statskontoret has made shows that there are significant variations between different government agencies, municipalities and county councils. Some have come a long way in making accessible information for reuse, while others do not even have plans to begin.
Small government agencies and municipalities generally have both lower awareness of the PSI Act and more difficult to get started with the work. Those who have come the furthest most often perceive that it is part of their core assignment to make their information more accessible.
No significant development in recent years
The awareness of the PSI Act and the accessibility of information for re-usage have not improved significantly since Statskontoret did the corresponding measurement in 2015. On an overall level, our analysis suggests that efforts have, on the contrary, slowed down somewhat.
The developments that still occurs seems to be driven primarily by parties who have already been at the forefront. The gap between the various government agencies, municipalities and county councils has therefore probably increased.
Several reasons for the slow development
In particular, there are three types of obstacles that make it more difficult to make public information accessible: shortages of resources, lack of established systems within the operations that easily make possible to make the information accessible, and the difficulty in identifying relevant information. Another obstacle to the development is that only a few government agencies, municipalities and county councils regard the work to promote re-usage as part of their mandate. Therefore, they often deprioritise the work in favour of what the involved parties perceive as their core responsibilities.
The assignments to the National Archives of Sweden, and the Swedish National Financial Management Authority have not yet contributed to the work of the government agencies
In order to work on the availability of information for re-usage, the Government has commissioned the National Archives and the Swedish National Financial Management Authority. Statskontoret is of the view that these measures have not to a significant extent contributed to the development of the government agencies’ work.
The National Archives’ task and responsibility is to promote and support the government agencies’ efforts to make accessible information for re-usage. The National Archives of Sweden actively works with the assignment, however are still in an initial phase of implementation.
The Swedish National Financial Management Authority was tasked with investigating possible contradictions between the tax regulations and the PSI Act. ESV has submitted proposals for how the regulations can be clarified. The Government has not implemented the proposals. Statskontoret’s analysis shows that parts of public administration are still unsure about how to interpret the regulations.