Uzbekistan uses open datasets to combat corruption

How Uzbekistan’s new Anti-Corruption Agency identifies, presents and prioritizes government data towards openness

Open Data Charter
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Photo by Yumi Kim on Unsplash

Corruption has a devastating impact on the lives of people around the world. Open data is especially useful to fight corruption: it allows us to analyze the tax collection of a government, public spending and investment, as well as track the evolution of the assets of public officials and the qualified or disqualified government contractors, and which institutions receive subsidies from the public.

Uzbekistan creates dedicated ‘Anticorruption Agency’ to combat corruption

Uzbekistan has been working on an open data policy for a couple of years now. But in 2021, the Anti-Corruption Agency of the Republic of Uzbekistan government led a process to proactively implement public data publication standards, through a first stage of work towards the implementation of Anticorruption Open Up Guide created by Open Data Charter. The Anticorruption Open Up Guide is a tool to lead governments who want to work on open data for anti-corruption policy. It promotes that any citizen is able to access public information, consult the data and use it.

With the objective of understanding the state of the art we evaluated the current status of anti-corruption data in Uzbekistan with the guidance of a Colombian technical consultant, Datasketch. The exercise identified the existence of 11 datasets established in the guide (37%), which are published on the Uzbekistan Open Data Portal. These datasets had a somewhat higher score according to the data mapping methodology, but still some work needs to be done in some criteria to bring the most high open data standards. Additionally, 53% of the datasets recommended by the AC Open Up Guide (16 datasets) were not found on line, while 10% (3 datasets) had a low score.

Understanding anti-corruption and prioritizing objectives

With this mapping exercise done, ODC team together with OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Uzbekistan presented the results in an online workshop on November 24th. Six public agencies of the Uzbekistan national government participated in the meeting: the Anti-Corruption Agency of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the. Ministry of Justice, the Agency for Information and Mass Communications, the Ministry of Construction. the Ministry of Finance, and the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Statistics. The main objectives was to understand the anticorruption and open data priorities for Uzbekistan and understand the challenges both technical and legal that the anticorruption and open data policy meets in the country.

The participants individually indicated which data sets they considered most important and urgent for Uzbekistan´s anti-corruption policy. Based on the exchanges, a list of core datasets was drawn up to advance in the opening of data to fight corruption in Uzbekistan:

Recommendations and considerations for greater interoperability

The publication of anti-corruption data requires continuous work and constant coordination with different actors involved. According to the key actors’ interviews common patterns and challenges were identified. Specific recommendations to take into account for the publication of data in an integrated and interoperable manner with the open data portal of Uzbekistan are listed below.

  • Governance model. The Anti-Corruption Agency acts as coordinator and manager of requests to multiple entities and must articulate both management directive actors and implementation technicians within the different entities that produce and want to publish data according to the Anticorruption Open Up Guide. It is therefore recommended to have a governance model with the aims for standardized procedures for the different requests made to entities regarding the publication of information. It should be accompanied by recommendations on data management and governance, covering the entire life cycle of the data
  • Definition of roles. Human resources with clear responsibilities to ensure proper coordination among themselves and with other agencies.
  • Planning. Any process of opening information must include an analysis and planning of what information is held, what information can and cannot be opened, and how to do it. To inform this process, it is very useful to think from the perspective of “publishing with purpose”: it implies prioritizing those datasets held by each respective public agency, analyzing their technical and regulatory possibility of being published.
  • Interoperability. It is also important that the data be structured and have standards in order to be interoperable. This will make it possible to compare them with each other and with the databases of other entities belonging to the anti-corruption ecosystem.
  • Training course to public officials. Develop a series of training courses to work with data from beginning to end. To public officials can understand your data cycle and stakeholders involved in anti-corruption cycle, it will be time to work with the data and explain them the different steps
  • Promotion and participation. Public institutions should develop actions to promote and disseminate the efforts made to collect and publish data, as well as the processes carried out and the potential uses of such data to fight corruption. It is important for citizens to engage with public institutions to reuse the available data and provide feedback to datasets for improvement.
  • Data reuse. Setting up meetings with civil society organizations for the use of existing data in the several public entities that are part of the anti-corruption ecosystem.

This project laid the necessary foundations that will accompany the Government of Uzbekistan in its intentions to open the data to help detect, sanction and prevent cases of corruption. The creation of the Anti-Corruption Agency is a significant milestone in the country and the fact that it is already working towards promoting, popularizing and making available public data to strengthen the fight against corruption in the country is very important news. In addition, we have high hopes that Uzbekistan’s existing regulatory framework will continue to evolve the institutional structures required to advance along this path towards openness and ensure long-term sustainability.

Read the full report here.

Uzbekistan adopted the international Open Data Charter in 2020 and following their commitment, they recently implemented the ODC’s Open Up Guide for Anticorruption.

The Open Up Guide for Anticorruption offers a useful schematisation on access and use of government information throughout the anti-corruption cycle of prevention, detection, investigation and sanction. It contains 30 core datasets that should be made public and interoperable across policy areas — including lobbying, political financing, interest and asset declarations, public procurement and beneficial ownership.

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Open Data Charter
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Collaborating with governments and organisations to open up data for pay parity, climate action and combatting corruption.