An open dialogue approach to open data: Powered by Data at Open Government Week

Powered by Data is participating in Canada’s Open Government Week, which takes place from May 7-11, 2018.  Open Government Week is a week-long international celebration of government transparency, accountability, and civic participation—and we’re excited to be travelling to Ottawa to participate tomorrow!


We have been invited to speak about our consultation work for Canadian Heritage, where we provided recommendations on how they could best leverage Open Government to better achieve their mission.  In our presentation, we’ll share details on our two stakeholder consultations to help them identify high-priority datasets to release openly, determine use cases for their open data and information, and provide recommendations for optimizing the discoverability of open, digital content. We’ll be joined by two representatives from Canadian Heritage: Sean O’Donnell, (Grants and Contributions Centre of Excellence) and Nicole Frenette (Policy Research Group), who will be speaking on how our consultations have influenced their work.

We’ll highlight two important approaches we brought to this open government work:

(1) Engaging with Canadian Heritage's stakeholders directly, rather than the online open data community and building capacity for their meaningful engagement, and

(2) Adopting an integrated approach that aligns open government with a department’s existing mission and services.

Open Dialogue: Stakeholder capacity-building

For this work, we understood that rather than simply engaging with the existing open data community, it would be important to engage directly with Canadian Heritage’s stakeholders to understand their needs and use cases around open government. These stakeholders stand to benefit most from this open data and information. In our initial outreach to academic, cultural, and civil society stakeholders, we learned that most had a low level of awareness around open government. In order to receive quality feedback from stakeholders, it was necessary for us to build their capacity for meaningful engagement. As such, a key feature of our approach to open government consultations for Canadian Heritage involved educating stakeholders through briefing materials and one-on-one conversations prior to our central group consultation.

Aligning open government with existing organizational objectives

There are many common hurdles to open government initiatives: this kind of significant organizational culture change is difficult, and open government initiatives are often underfunded. Our work with Canadian Heritage validated our proposal that open government offers more internal value when it can be aligned with broader organizational objectives and policies. For example, we explored how open government could be aligned with the department’s existing grant-making, research, and digital government activities.

We have been implementing these two key approaches to open government in our work with other governmental departments and agencies, and we’re looking forward to discussing these ideas further during tomorrow’s presentation.

Interested in watching the livestream?

If you’re interested in learning more about our work with Canadian Heritage and our organizational approach to increasing impact through open government, be sure to join the webinar at this link on Wednesday, May 9 from 10:30 - 11:30am EST.   

A full report on our first stakeholder consultation on open government for Canadian Heritage can be found here.