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May 4, 2015

Italian Project Promotes Transparency

Italian Project Promotes Transparency

By Daniela Vellutino

In Italy, open data is required by laws concerning transparency in public administration (Legislative Decree 33/2013, Decree Law 90/2014, Law 114 of 11 August 2014). Public institutions that do not provide open data are subject to sanctions. Every year, the Agency for Digital Italy publishes guidelines on how to publish the data. Even so, a recent study by the Polytechnic of Milan revealed that just 41 percent of public offices publishes data and 66 percent responded in the survey’s questionnaire that they did not want to.

In the Open Data Barometer of the World Wide Web Foundation, Italy was ranked 22nd in 2014.

For this reason it is necessary to raise awareness about the usefulness of open data. Among other things, open data enables social control of public spending and it encourages investment by business enterprises, SMEs and corporations, as stated by the European Digital Strategy for Europe.

Projects related to social innovation, like Seismic, promote interaction between networks of urban stakeholders to encourage civic engagement. In the case of Italy, Seismic has fostered such connections to that social innovators can exchange information at events and in projects related to  urban problems. The goal is to engage citizens and identify social innovation needs.

The awareness-raising project "Diritto di Accesso Civico" (Civic Rights of Access to Public Sector Information) is taking part in Seismic. The project aims to promote civic monitoring of public services in order to promote participatory citizenship. The project is targeted at university students of public communications.

In order to promote accountability and transparency in the public sector, Diritto di Accesso Civico proceeds with civic monitoring: first the project researches and organises available public sector information and open data, and then it proceeds with interviews of public officers of a municipality.

The goal of the project is to experiment with the use of open data in the writing of public sector information. The project has created a community for civic monitoring of public funds, in particular the Structural Funds (For further information visit www.dirittodiaccessocivico.it).

Daniela Vellutino, of the University of Salerno, heads the teaching project Diritto di Accesso Civico (Civic Rights of Access to Public Sector Information)