Last spring, the Slovakian Office for Public Procurement (OPP) started publishing tender notifications from its Public Procurement Bulletin in an open XML format, making all announcements — including editorial corrections — available for download and (automated) processing.
The tender information from the Public Procurement Bulletin is automatically transported and published in XML format. The datasets currently available comprise all notifications since 2014. Data for previous years will be added gradually.
For the future, we plan to provide visualisations of various datasets, says Silvia Horváthová, Data Curator at NASES.
The team at the open data portal has made a support application available. This software module helps public administrations transform their datasets into the required format.
NASES has primary responsibility for the open data portal, and also provides independent data itself. The agency makes sure that all data is made available in an open and technology-independent way, under public licenses, to enable its re-use.
To help public servants who need to deal with open data, NASES has released 'Guidelines for Publication of Open Data'.
Open government data is typically used by researchers, journalists, scientists and commercial parties working on analyses and applications. The specific usage of the datasets from the Slovakian open data portal, however, is not known in detail.
Downloading data from the site is anonymous, Horváthová explains.
No registration is required. But we do know that the portal is used by journalists as well as commercial parties.
The Slovakian open data portal was created as part of the Initiative for Open Governance, Horváthová continues.
This initiative aims to improve governance and public matters through increasing transparency, effectiveness and responsibility.
The portal is basically a catalogue containing various datasets which agencies in the Slovak Republic are obliged to publish. The data itself can be retrieved directly from the website using the published links, or through the search function of the site.
Datasets can be stored by the uploading agencies in the form of an exact copy, or they can be stored in the underlying database. The portal also provides standard visualisation tools, catering to various types of data and different forms of use.
The portal is managed by the Government Office as part of the national project 'Electronic Services of the Government Office of the Slovak Republic — eDemocracy and Open Government'.
The formats in which government information should be published are regulated by a decree from the Ministry of Finance. Bylaw number 55/2014 on Standards for Public Administration Information Systems dictates the use of general XML standards, as well as technical standards specifically for the publication of open data by public agencies, and the tools required to create these XML files.
In this case, converting the contract notifications into XML was not necessary.
The information in the Public Procurement Bulletin was already available in XML format, explains Peter Suško from the IT Department of the Office for Public Procurement.
All users of the information systems of our Office have at their disposal electronic forms for every sort of notification they may need. After processing, these documents are sent to a database where they are stored in a standard XML format. NASES then takes responsibility for further refinement to make the notifications suitable for publication.
Our responsibility is to provide the data in the standard format specified by NASES, Suško continues.
So our documents have to meet the standards set by the legislation and technical standards mentioned above. In cooperation with NASES we made certain that the required functionality is available and the process is fully automated, that way providing the required integration between the two institutions.
As a matter of fact, the notifications were already automatically republished on the slovensko.sk site the day after they had been made available on the www.uvo.gov.sk portal of the Office for Public Procurement. So the tools to transport these documents to the open data portal were readily available as well.
Datasets are organised by month, and can be downloaded directly from the portal in XML format.
Disclosure to the general public through open data is key to increasing transparency and creating new business opportunities, NASES CEO Norbert Molnár emphasised.
Since the source data was already available in XML format, Suško estimates the value of this project to be only about 3,000 Euro, which was within the available budget.
According to information from the Slovak Office of the Plenipotentiary, public interest in this project is quite large.
According to Suško, there are many open source toolkits freely available to convert data downloaded from the open data portal from XML into any other open format.