Abstract
Changing and transforming technologies
cause major changes in the world we live in.
With the transition to information society,
relations between governments and citizens
are re-formed. Today, digital transformation
causes great changes in institution structures
and brings great opportunities. With digital
transformation, services have been started
to be provided online by governments and BI
technologies have been used extensively for
internal control accounting systems within
management structures. The institutions
through information systems have collected
data sets. As a result of this process, the data
sets are available to everyone without
limitation. The publication of data sets online
and the opening access to all have raised new
opportunities for governments and citizens.
For this reason, Open Data is also important
for the SAIs. In this article, the importance of
open data in terms of the SAIs will be
examined.
Açık Veri (Open Data) Nedir?
What Is Open Data?
Open Data refers to data that everyone can
access, use, and share. Governments,
businesses and individuals make available
online data sets specific to their functions to
increase social, economic and environmental
benefits. Culture, Science, Finance, Statistics,
environment, public expenditure, etc. topics
can be evaluated within the context of open
data (European Commission, 2012).
The most important feature that should be
present is that there is no limit to the use of
Open Data. Everyone should be able to play a
role in the collection, sharing and use of data,
even if they have commercial purposes.
Although free access to the data is essential,
an access fee can be determined, if it does not
exceed the cost of collection, installation and
management of the related data. In addition,
these data sets should be published in
common used formats that are suitable for
reuse, and machine readable (European
Commission, 2012).
Dr. David Tarrant, from Open Data Institute,
one of the major international organizations,
stated that this data should also be licensed
and validated. Tarrant cited the FAO and the
World Bank as an example (Tarrant, 2017).
Benefits and Risk of Open Data
Open Data has the potential to provide many
benefits to governments, business and civil
society. First, it allows governments to be
more transparent. It also provides evidence
of the use of public resources and the results
of policies implemented by governments. For
example according to David Eaves, open data
allowed citizens in Canada to save the
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Open Data and SAIs
Mahmut GÜLER
Auditor
SAI Turkey
government $3.2bn in fraudulent charitable
donations in 2010 (Eaves, 2010).
O p e n d a t a e n a b l e s n e w b u s i n e s s
o p p o r t u n i t i e s . F o r e x a m p l e , 8 0 0
transportation applications have been made
available in London after the opening of
geographic information systems. In addition,
open data provides a variety of advantages in
t e r m s o f g r o w t h o f e c o n o m i e s ,
transformation of society, environmental
protection, innovation, and enhancing the
quality of academic studies.
Open data brings many new opportunities for
Sustainable Development Goals. Sustainable
Development Goal 16 and its sub-goals point
out to develop effective, accountable and
transparent institutions at all levels and
ensure public access to information. In SDG
16, the concepts of accountability and
transparency are important (United Nations,
2015). Therefore, SDG 16 and open data are
connected to each other.
Accountability and transparency help to
understand the requirements of open data
and its expected benefits. The accountability
of an institution means that the institution is
responsible for its actions and decisions.
Transparency is also visible outside the
accountability of institutions. For Open Data,
Accountability is the ability of data sets to
explain the issues they represent and to
include them in their answers. In terms of
open data, transparency means that the data
set can be easily accessed and available
without restrictions. Mayernick, who model
the relationship between these two concepts
with open data, has reached the following
conclusions (Mayernik, 2017):
- There should be no limitation for good data
management
- The concept of transparency clearly refers to
accessibility, but only accessibility is not
sufficient
- Understandability of each set of data should
be considering every stage
- In o p e n d a t a , a c c o u n t a b i l i t y a n d
transparency characteristics should always
be achieved together.
Open data can help to better understand the
actions of governments and evaluate their
performance at points that have not been
achieved.
This would result within the framework of
accountability. In addition, increasing
government transparency, public awareness
of government programs and actions help
improve government performance and add
value by increasing participation and
cooperation. It also improves decision-
making processes of governments and
individuals (Ubaldi, 2013).
In addition to the benefits of open data in
terms of transparency and participation, it
also contributes to the coordinated work of
institutions. In spite of the early warnings of
Hurricane Katrina in the United States on
August 29, 2005, one of the most destructive
hurricanes in the history occurred causing
lossess of $125 billion. The Congressional
Bipartisan Select Committee appointed to
investigate the preparation and response to
Katrina was troubled by the lack of
information sharing among federal and state
agencies in the aftermath of the hurricane.
For this reason, people aected by the
disaster were not directed to the right
hospitals and effective rescue operations
could not be carried out in cooperation. As a
result, it was stated by the reviewing
commission that the best struggle against
Katrina is better information. Institutions
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should inform the right people in the right
places and at the right times. At the same
time, coordination between institutions must
be ensured through open data. Thereupon,
President Obama proposed the Open
Government Program to solve the problem
(Peled, 2011).
Besides the benefits of open data, there are
risks. Jan Kucera and Dusan Chlapek (2014)
list these risks as follows:
- Publication of data against the law
- Trade secret protection infringement
- Privacy infringement
- Risk to the security of the infrastructure
- Publication of improper data or
information
- Publication of inaccurate data
- Misinterpretation of the data
- Absence of data consumers
- Subjects less willing to cooperate
- Overlapping of data
- Increased number of requests for data
The expected benets of open data are
abstract by some researchers and it is
expressed that the results of the targeted
things do not match. Anneke Zuiderwijk and
others (2018) evaluated 168 objective-results
studies on open data. As a result of the
research, open data has been claimed to
benefit from other areas rather than the
targeted areas. For this reason, they stated
that the costs required for open data should
be taken into consideration and benefits
could be obtained in other areas than
targeted.
As we can see, the benefits of open data have
not yet been fully revealed, as there are no
explicit limitations and criteria. In addition,
there are still political, technical, economic
and financial, organizational, cultural, legal
challenges awaiting a solution for open data
(Ubaldi, 2013).
Are There Universal Measurement
Criteria for Open Data?
Universal criteria for open data are being
developed by various organizations. These
organizations were established with the
participation of governments and non-
governmental organizations and started
their activities such as, Open Government
Partnership, Open Data Charter, Open Data
Institute, Open Knowledge International,
Open Data Barometer etc. These non-
governmental organizations use some
criteria and are ranking the governments and
publishing annual reports about open data
maturity (The Open Data Barometer, 2018)
(Open Data Charter, 2015) (The Global Open
Data Index, 2017) (Open Knowledge
International, 2019) .
Eight Open Government Data Principles were
defined and put forward for governments'
consideration in December 2007, during an
Open Government Working Group Meeting
held in Sebastopol, which gathered 30 open
government advocates and was organised by
Public.Resource.Org, with sponsorship from
the Sunlight Foundation, Google and Yahoo
(Ubaldi, 2013). These principles include
( S o u c e :
http://resource.org/8_principles.html):
1. Complete: All public data are made
available. Public data are data that is not
subject to valid privacy, security or privilege
limitations.
2. Primary: Data is collected at the source,
with the highest possible level of granularity,
not in aggregate or modified forms.
3. Timely: Data is made available as quickly as
necessary to preserve the value of the data.
4. Accessible: Data is available to the widest
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range of users for the widest range of
purposes.
5. Machine processable: Data is reasonably
structured to allow automated processing.
6. Non-discriminatory: Data is available to
anyone, with no requirement of registration.
7. Non-proprietary: Data is available in a
format over which no entity has exclusive
control.
8. License-free: Data is not subject to any
copyright, patent, trademark or trade secret
regulation. Reasonable privacy, security and
privilege restrictions may be allowed.
Governments have made legal arrangements
for open data and launched programs. The
U.S. national OGD portal was established in
May 2009 for the open data program. A few
months later, a similar portal was established
by the British government. A recently
released Open Data White Paper from the UK
Government. The European Commission has
encouraged open data with the 2003 Public
Sector information directive and the 2011
Ope n Dat a Pa c ka g e. T h e E u rop e an
Commission has issued a Digital Agenda for
Europe and launched its own open data
portal. The Re-use Directive of 2003 is
particularly relevant, as it lays down how
publ i c authorities must m a k e their
documents available for re-use. In 2013, the
Council and the European Parliament
approved a revised Directive that must be
transposed into national law by summer 2015.
Statistics Netherlands (cbs) launched an
open data portal in July 2014 (Ding,
Peristeras, & Hausenblas, 2012) (Yang, Lo, &
Shiang, 2015) (Netherlands Court of Audit,
2015). Many countries have contributed to
the open data movement and as of today, 43
countries have published 1,022,787 data sets
o n 1 9 2 s e p a r a t e t o p i c s
(https://logd.tw.rpi.edu/demo/international
_dataset_catalog_search).
What Is The Relationship Between SAIs and
Open Data?
The SAIs have a very critical role in terms of
open data. SAIs are an example by publishing
online the audit data sets and reporting the
development of open data in institutions. The
Turkish court of accounts also plays a leading
role in the development of open data in
Turkey.
The basic relationship between open data
and audit is established in two ways. First, The
SAIs measure institutions open data
maturity. As an example of this, the
Netherlands Court of accounts has published
three reports for the years 2015-2017. In this
report, the international rankings of the
Netherlands on open data were investigated
and the legal regulations and institutions
were evaluated. In 2012, the Implementing
transparency report was published by the
National Audit Office (National Audit Office,
2012).
SAIs make evaluations using online data sets
published by the institutions. Thus, more
effective and efficient use of resources to be
used in audits will be ensured as well as
planning, sampling, Cross-Control, and
determination of audit findings will be easier.
The Turkish Court of Accounts uses the Open
Data effectively in planning, implementation,
reporting and monitoring of audits.
Furthermore, the Turkish Court of Account
publishes the financial audit reports and
shares the detailed data in the annual report
with the public.
The biggest problems with open data are
quality and accuracy. Because, based on this
data, various decisions are taken and
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implemented by governments or individuals.
If there is a poor quality or wrong data, there
is a risky situation (Tarrant, 2017). The SAI
provides assurance by auditing the internal
control and information systems of the
institutions regarding the quality and
accuracy of the data.
Conclusion
The open data subject for countries is part of
the digital transformation. All of the activities
of governments about open data, such as
recording, collecting, processing data,
require advanced information systems. For
this reason, governments must use IT
programs with advanced internal control
mechanisms and identify data sets that will
be qualied. Once these phases are
completed, however, the open data issue
needs to be discussed.
Open data is a concept that contains many
benefits and risks.
Open data should be determined according to
the political, security, economic and cultural
characteristics of the countries.
As application instances proliferate, some
issues that need to be evaluated will arise. For
this reason, the SAIs have important roles in
the development of open data and in solving
problems.
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