Departments are not sharing data: Pitroda

There are 50,000 data sets available which could be shared on the data.gov.in portal

pratap

Pratap Vikram Singh | November 1, 2012



Even as the government promised transparency in the system through putting every departmental information in the public domain, the departments, including planning commission, are yet to get in action mode.

According to Sam Pitroda, adviser to the prime minister on public information, infrastructure and innovations (PIII), line departments and ministries are not coming forward to share their data. The portal - 'data.gov.in' - created under the open government platform (OGPL) initiative, is aimed at putting government data in public domain to increase participatory governance, better decision-making and create transparency and accountability.

"The government has created a platform to put data sets for public use. Initially, we are asking departments to provide at least five data sets. However, there are 50,000 data sets available, which could be shared. But the departments are not giving data," lamented Pitroda while talking to Governance Now on the sidelines of an urban governance programme organised by NGO Janaagraha.    

Citing an example, he said that on the advice of its deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, the planning commission was supposed to share data on the portal within a week in the month of July. However, it has been three months since, and the commission is yet to come forward with the data.

Interestingly, the planning commission already has a substantial part of its data in the public domain on its portal which makes the work easier. To this, Pitroda said, "Instead of sharing data, which is anyway available on its portal, the secretary to commission has set up a committee for 'sanitising' the data before sharing."  

Early this year, the union ministry of science and technology launched the National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP) 2012 in March.  According to the policy, all ministries and departments had to “upload at least five high-value data sets on data.gov.in within three months of the notification of the policy.” Uploading all remaining data sets had to be completed within one year.

According to the policy, “The current methods of storing data are as diverse as the disciplines that generate it. It is necessary to develop institutional repositories, data centre on domain and national levels that all methods of storing and sharing have to exist within the specific infrastructure to enable all users to access and use it. The policy aims at the promotion of a technology-based culture of data management as well as data sharing and access. It opens up, proactively, information on available data, which could be shared with civil society for developmental purposes.”

Responding to the concerns raised by Pitroda, CEO of national spatial data infrastructure, department of science and technology, Dr R Siva Kumar, said, "It is unfortunate that the data sharing is taking time. However, a major challenge confronting the implementation is developing a system internally - comprising of senior department's officials – within all the departments which can quickly sift through the data and push it on to the data.gov portal.” National spatial data infrastructure is the nodal agency for implementing data sharing policy.

"Recently, we had a workshop on the data sharing policy that was attended by 60 departments and ministries. We expect a good number of departments coming on board in a couple of months," said Siva Kumar.

The 'open data' initiative was first launched in the United States followed by the United Kingdom. The initiative has been widely appreciated for opening government through bringing transparency and accountability.

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