According to the results of research by the Transparent Cities program, as of December 2022, the average publication rate of open data in 18 oblast centers is only 25.1%. This not only makes it impossible for public control over the activities of local authorities, but also indicates a restriction on the constitutional right of people to access information.
On February 24, 2022, the government suspended access to the Unified State Open Data Portal, where, in particular, data were published by cities. Access to the portal was restored in August, but most of the data are outdated, and much of the information has not yet been published.
To date, no changes have been approved to the Resolution No.835 of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. Consequently, all the data sets listed in it actually remain mandatory for publication by the information managers of local self-government bodies.
Among the sets are those especially valuable for people during the period of martial law. These are data on the location of protective structures of civil protection; accessibility of buildings for people with disabilities; medicine purchased for budget funds, its distribution among health care institutions and balances in each of them, etc.
As a transparency and accountability program, Transparent Cities considers this situation to be harmful. Given the factual closeness of the data, journalists, public activists, and residents cannot quickly obtain, and therefore use, the information they need. Public control over the work of the government is becoming more difficult. There is more room for corruption.
Thus, the temporary restriction of access to certain information during wartime may be justified, but must be explained and meet clear criteria for determining security-sensitive information. We propose to reconsider the approach of chaotic closure of access to open data and be guided by the following principles:
- Restriction of access should be accompanied by a description of specific risks, possible scenarios for their implementation, and ways to manage them;
- Access may be restricted only to such information, the disclosure of which may create risks;
- Restrictions cannot apply to information that is available in other public sources or has been made public before.
The principles of transparency and accountability should remain cross-cutting aspects in the work of local authorities. Compliance with these principles is the key to economic stability and effective recovery of Ukraine.
We call on the information managers of local self-government bodies to urgently restore access to priority data sets, in an amount that does not pose a threat to security, and to publicly justify the closure of information and indicate the grounds on which it was recognized as sensitive.
The statement is supported by:
- Transparent Cities
- Transparency International Ukraine
- CHESNO Movement
- Institute of Legislative Ideas
Given the factual closeness of the data, journalists, public activists, and residents cannot quickly obtain, and therefore use, the information they need. Public control over the work of the government is becoming more difficult. There is more room for corruption.