Developing an open data maturity model

Originally published on the Open Data Institute blog. Original URL:

Organisational change is an important aspect of becoming an open data publisher. Often the technical process of getting data published is actually the easiest step. But if users are to have reliable, ongoing access to data then organisations need to consider the strategic, financial and operational impacts of making their open data publishing efforts sustainable.

Existing open data publishers are all at different stages in this change process: some are only just beginning to publish data, others have already undergone significant changes towards a more “open by default” model. Understanding the issues commonly encountered provides an opportunity for organisations to both learn from the successes of others and to assess their “maturity” as an open data publisher.

The Defra Transparency Panel, put together by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, recently identified the need to be able to assess the open data maturity of organisations Defra works with, with a view to using this as a means to further promote open data publishing. As this type of assessment would clearly have value to other public bodies, Defra has partnered with the ODI to explore the creation of a general “maturity model” for open data publishers.

Funded by the Release of Data Fund, the project is just beginning and has several goals:

  • convene a group of stakeholders from central and local government, and the wider open data community, to provide input into the model
  • create an assessment model that considers the technical, strategic, financial, internal operational, customer and knowledge aspects of open data publication
  • develop a simple tool that will allow organisations to assess themselves against the model, producing a simple scorecard and recommended areas for improvement.

Consisting of a series of questions and measures, the assessment will be a natural complement to the Open Data Certificates. But where the certificates focus on a single dataset, the maturity model will assess the wider organisation. Where possible, data from existing certificates and measures will be used to help support completion of the assessment.

By providing a means for public bodies to better understand their open data maturity and concrete guidance on areas for improvement, the goal is to ultimately drive an increase in the volume and quality of open data.

First steps

The initial part of the project will consist of a series of workshops. The first of these will focus on requirements gathering with a later workshop providing an opportunity to review and test the model before it is finalised. Development of the assessment tool will then begin.

The team are currently drawing up a shortlist of stakeholders to invite to the workshops, the first of which will take place before the end of the year. The initial set of attendees is based on existing expressions of interest from the Defra Transparency Panel, organisations in the Defra network, DCLG, and some local authorities. The goal is to have a representative mix of different types of organisation with different levels of experience in publishing open data.

While spaces will be limited, if you are interested in taking part in one of the workshops then please send me an email at as soon as possible. However, the intention is to openly publish both the draft and final models so there will be opportunities for wider review before it is released. We’ll also provide further updates on the project over the coming months.