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Understanding Two Mechanisms for Accessing Government Information and Data

August 28, 2015

This paper is third of four in our second phase of research on Open Data in Developing Countries. These projects show the social, political and legal sides of open data that are too often overshadowed by the technical aspects in the debate. For an overview of the project please see our blog.


This research acknowledges that there is still plenty to learn in terms of Freedom of Information and Open Government Data policies, beginning with an examination of some of the basic differences and similarities between the two information-related initiatives. Despite everything that the OGD and FOI movements have in common, their differences have to be taken into account, especially in today’s context where there are few joint activities.

The first part of this report assesses whether the differences and similarities between FOI and OGD requires examination of similar or different variables. The second part focuses on the major existing rankings, indices and other measurements used evaluate the progress of these initiatives. The last section suggests potential areas for future research.

This research concludes that there is still much to be done to correct misunderstandings and remove barriers to the collaboration between the FOI and OGD communities. In addition to research on the conceptual aspects of both, there is a need to complement this with more action-based research into how these mechanisms of access and reuse are being used. Furthermore, despite the efforts made in the last decade, we have really only begun this work, and there is significant distance yet to be covered. Far more will be achieved, and with far greater efficiency, if both FOI and OGD communities invest in trying to develop a shared learning and research agenda.

Download the full report:



This project is supported by the Open Data for Development (OD4D) program, a partnership funded by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the World Bank, United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), and Global Affairs Canada (GAC).