Main Gaps and Challenges of Georgia’s Public Data Ecosystem

News | Civic Tech and Innovations | Publications | Open Governance and Anti-Corruption | Analysis 18 November 2022

Public data plays an important role in improving public welfare, modernizing the public sector, and implementing governance reforms. In this regard, open data, which is freely available to any interested party and, most importantly, easy to process and use for various purposes, has particularly great potential. Open data makes it possible to identify and predict important trends and circumstances, as well as to ensure accountability of the government, improve services and create new innovative applications.


Along with the progress in terms of digital development and open government practices around the world, major emphasis has been made globally on improving open data ecosystems. Georgia is no exception to this trend, seeing the reforms in the latest years, despite many set-back and challenges faced in the process.


The Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), by virtue of its mission and vision, has been closely engaged at various levels in most of the activities surrounding the improvement of accessibility to open data since its founding. Therefore the organization is in a good position to produce a comprehensive and contextual assessment of major legislative, institutional, and practical gaps/needs in terms of access to open data in Georgia.


The analysis aims to outline and cross-reference Georgia’s results in various International surveys/reports in order to identify the main challenges and needs of the country in terms of data accessibility and management practices. Particular emphasis will be made on the Global Data Barometer (GDB), published in May 2022, for which IDFI was the regional coordinator. For increased scope and credibility, the analysis will take into account the latest results of the Open Data Inventory (ODIN) and the Open Data Maturity Report (ODM). The GDB’s approach to the assessment of data availability and accessibility can be considered the most comprehensive out of the three, meanwhile, ODIN is concerned with data provided by the National Statistics Offices (NSOs) and ODM mainly focuses on Government Open Data Portals.


Main Findings:


- In the scope of the Global Data Barometer (GDB), Georgia ranks fifth out of 12 countries in the region with 40.25 points, after Ukraine, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Moldova;


- The results showed that it is important to establish/improve regulations, processes, and institutions to facilitate and protect data accessibility, and to strengthen existing efforts in this regard;


- In terms of data capabilities, the main challenge is the inactivity of the existing government open data portal and the need to develop data management capabilities at the local level;


- In the political accountability module, Georgia received one of the highest scores for the asset declarations indicator. The main need in this regard is open access to this data;


- In terms of public consultations,there is a need to improve the mechanism for involvement in the decision-making process and to establish mechanisms for data collection and processing;


- The fee for obtaining complete data on land use in Georgia significantly hinders the availability of said data. The removal of the Paywall would boost the assessment results in this regard;


- The assessment of the standards of transparency of beneficial ownership in Georgia falls short of the international average score;


- Real-time healthcare system capacity data is not being collected and vaccination data is unavailable in bulk, in machine-readable formats, nor disaggregated by various indicators;


- Comparing overall open data maturity score in 2021 to previous editions, most countries show increased results while Georgia stagnates;


- There is no evidence in Georgia of any mechanisms in place for measuring and assessing the extent of open data re-use. Additionally, There are no attempts at measuring the social, political and economic impact of data.




Despite the differing methodologies and varying scope of the analyzed reports, there were  some gaps and challenges that presented themselves consistently. There is solid ground to argue that the pivotal shortcoming in terms of availability and accessibility of open data in Georgia is the absence of open data legislation. Although Georgia has undertaken several reforms related to open data in the scope of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and subscribes to the IMF Standards for Data Dissemination, the country still lacks an enforceable and comprehensive legal act to regulate the disclosure of Government-held data.


ODIN and GDB both highlighted the data availability and accessibility shortcomings at the sub-national level. There is a need to develop data management capabilities locally, as well as the need to disaggregate centrally collected data in terms of municipal units. Another common issue emphasized by all three reports is the lack of effort and tools for measuring the social and economic impact of public data, which is crucial for the further development of data ecosystems and efficient prioritization of datasets.


Apart from the institutional and legislative gaps, certain specific datasets have been identified as difficult to access, undisclosed, or completely unavailable. The most problematic datasets include but are not limited to healthcare system capacity data, public consultation data, lobbying data, education expenditures, completion/graduation rates, immunization data, etc.


Lastly, The ODM results overviewed in this analysis highlight the urgent need to update Georgia’s open data portal. Consistent technical support, publication of new databases and regular updating of existing data are essential for the continued functioning of the portal. Furthermore, it is important to provide access to data through more open formats (especially API).


Three different international surveys of data accessibillity have identified significant challenges and needs for Georgia, although most of them are interrelated and can be addressed through the implementation of a comprehensive policy. The introduction of an open data policy and common standards based on international good practices will be an important step to overcome a significant part of the identified challenges. To this end, there is a need for a strong political will, which will ensure that decision-makers are aware of the importance, benefits, and key enablers for solid open data ecosystems in the country.


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