You are browsing the archive for Denis Parfenov.

Irish OGP Progress Report Launch: opening remarks by Paul Maassen

- March 14, 2016 in Denis Parfenov, Events, Ireland, IRM, IRM Report, Martin Wallace, midterm, OGP, OGP Ireland, OGPirl, open-government, opengov, Paul Maassen

ogp ireland

9 March 2016

The Printing House at Trinity College Dublin

Good evening ladies and gentleman,

I have been following the Irish journey in OGP since June 2012 when two active citizens came to me with the idea of campaigning for Irish participation in the partnership. With a smart advocacy strategy they managed to get more civil society interested and more to get minister Howlin interested. And the rest is history as they say. With Raj’s excellent report on the formal participation experience of Ireland in OGP to date as it’s history book.

Let me start with two complements. First, a complement for Ireland on not only producing a strong set of commitments, but also making very substantial progress on delivering them. And when I say Ireland I mean those actors in civil society and in government that made this happen. Second, a complement for Raj on his report. It is quite an achievement to capture a countries journey in OGP in general, but the Irish one is perhaps even more complex. I think you managed to capture the positives and the negatives well, naming what needs to be named, doing it elegantly without shying away.

I will try to do the same while framing Ireland’s performance within the partnership and making some suggestions.


OGP now has 69 participating countries, over 100 Action Plans that combined have close to 2500 commitments. The last couple of months 25 reports have been released for public comments. Those reports cover 407 commitments in total. Action plans range from 4 commitments to 15 in general, but we did have cases like Ireland with 30 and Uruguay with 40. So Ireland is on the high end

If we look at ambition, and use starred criteria I can tell you that out of these 407 commitments 27 are starred (meaning measurable, relevant to open government values, potentially transformative and substantially of fully implemented. The stars per country range from 1 to 4 (only Ireland has 4 stars, 4 countries have 2 stars, 4 countries have 3 stars, 2 countries have 1 star).

On issues covered the trends are access to information and public accountability (based on the frequency of their relevance to OGP values.

In the bigger picture Ireland is doing well if you look at the commitments. Across the 30 commitments many are relevant, many are substantially of fully delivered, the plan covers a broad range of issues and not just politically easy ones. On the process side there is more to be done in Ireland – and not just in Ireland.


Trend is that countries are learning and complying better with the official OGP process requirements. We have seen improvements in all countries from first action plan to second. Meeting the requirements doesn’t necessarily mean a national process was of high quality though. As OGP we have realized that we have to revisit the requirements and bring in new elements that look at more qualitative aspects like the depth of the consultation – is civil society consulted or do they co-create with government, is the process open and inclusive or not? We also realized that one important factor for success is what we call the permanent dialogue mechanism a country puts in place. Raj calls it the Implementation Review Group. The name doesn’t matter. What is important is that there is a way to have a continuous dialogue between actors – not just for the development of a plan, but also for implementation and monitoring. The best examples we have are really where civil society and government co-create OGP in a space they manage together.

I actually thought the consultation for the plan in Ireland was pretty good. And I watched it very closely. Yes, there could have been more citizens in the room, yes it could have been taken outside of Dublin, yes, the government could have negotiated with civil society more directly at the political level about priorities. Yes civil society could have been more strategic in bringing the 62 recommendations down to 10 Big Asks. But at least there was a lively debate resulting in 62 asks, there was government funding for the consultation, there was feedback on the proposals made and many made it into the plan and minister Howlin did put his political weight behind OGP and behind the commitments.

A lot has been said about the way civil society works and works together. I don’t think I need to touch on that, except two things. I absolutely realize that for civil society to be actively engaged in something so important and so complex as changing the culture of government asks for resources. And in western countries it is almost inevitable that that funding comes from government. Second, I have seen Irish civil society smartly advocate and work together twice and got what they wanted as a result. First in getting Ireland into OGP, second in rallying together to get the FOI fees abolished. It shows it is possible and when it happens it can pay off.


Coming to a close with a few recommendations for the future of Ireland in OGP. And of course I realize you have just had elections and they have brought a bit of shake-up. And I also realize Raj has recommendations in his report. They all are very solid and important.

First, to open up government and change the culture is not a technical fix. It is much more complex and political. Look at the commitments on lobbying regulation or whistleblower protection. For OGP to stay relevant in Ireland it is imperative to have a political champion in the new government with the will and power to drive this agenda forward. This is an opportunity for civil society to take the initiative.

Second, if commitments are not delivered by June it is great to re-commit – or differently put – still deliver what you promise. This should not be an excuse to commit to new, bold and ambitious things that combat corruption, or promote the uptake of open data, or make public spending more transparent and accountable.

Third, there are a lot of commitments in the plan to do more about participation, whether around all new policies or at local level. Ireland has a lot of good experience and should build on that. Not in the last place to make the next action plan development process even better and more inclusive, really pushing the boundaries on co-creation. And doing it in a way that really adds value to the outcome and for the parties that invest time and energy. Let’s not create participation opportunities just for the sake of it.

Fourth: be a leader in OGP on some of the stuff you are really good at like whistleblowing and lobbying – and learn from others on topics you are struggling on. That is part of why you are in OGP.

And finally: get that permanent dialogue going between government and civil society. It is not that difficult. You have done it on different topics and at different moments. We have dozens of strong examples by now on how to do it – including on selecting the people at the table and shaping the rules of the dialogue.

Let me leave it here. As I said, I have been closely following the Irish path to government reform for the last 4 years and look forward to the next 4!

Paul Maassen, Director for Civil Society Engagement at the Open Government Partnership

More information:






Making Data Relevant: Irish Health Data

- June 26, 2015 in #OpenDataIRL, Brian Costello, Caroline Lewis, Dan Alexandru Bujoreanu, Daniel "Chino" Carranza, Dave Corley, Denis Parfenov, Eoin MacCuirc, Eugene Eichelberger, Events, Flora Fleischer, Hospital Waiting List, Ingo Keck, Maker Party, Margaret Furr, Martin Kelly, Open Knowledge Ireland, Pamela Duncan, Richard Geoghegan, Robert Harte, Roslyn Fuller, Ruta Danyte, Salua Nassabay, Shawn Day, Steve White

Call for Action

Data collected on behalf of the people of Ireland and paid for by taxes should be available for use, reuse and redistribution as a right and under Service Level Agreement (SLA) in 21st century non-proprietary, machine-readable formats. PDF is not open data. Publishing reports in PDF format makes them inaccessible for processing and in effect renders the data unusable. Open Knowledge Ireland and OpenStreetMaps Ireland  call on Brendan Howlin, Minister of Department for Public Expenditure and Reform, Leo Varadkar, Health Minister and Richard Corbridge, Chief Information Officer for the Health Service Executive in Ireland, to support the efforts of the Open Data Community to increase the usefulness of publicly available Health Sector Data, by ensuring its publication in an open data format.  

Maker Party Round-Up

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 10.23.35 On Saturday, 13 June 2015, a diverse collection of twenty publicly-minded enthusiasts joined to explore and demonstrate the benefits of public data made open and used. The day began with opening remarks by Denis Parfenov:
We want the government to make data collected on behalf of citizens and at taxpayers expense available for use, re-use and distribution in useful 21st century non-proprietary, machine-readable formats; so it can be converted into actionable information to help society to answer real questions.

A lively and frank discussion led by Brian Costello and Eoin McCuirc from the Central Statistics Office followed – primarily detailing concrete ways to make data requests easy, fast and open. There was agreement among the wider group that making requests ‘public’ will help to make requests traceable and transparent and serve the public interest. Participants then broke into 3 focussed working groups:
  1. The OpenStreetMaps (OSM) group followed detailed instructions (link) by the OSM Community Organiser in Ireland Dave Corley and in a determined effort tidied up geospatial data for the 41 hospitals listed in the NTPF acute care dataset.
  • The intention was to use a publicly accessible, open format platform to provide a geospatial foundation for the Hospital Data Working group – but also make the same data available for anyone who cared to make use of it;
  • The result is a clean and accurate list of hospital lat/long coordinates generated by Dave Corley and available (link).
  1. The Data Wrangling group manipulated the available CSV data (which has been manually scraped on a monthly basis) on hospital waiting lists accessible to everyone:
  • The objective of this group was to transform inaccessible hospital data, published in PDF reports by the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF /, into machine readable data formats (link to data / link to project page)
  • This is a requirement to be able to use the data to provide quality analysis into how long patients are waiting for hospital appointments for May 2015 (link to data);
  • Participants self-organised themselves into an ongoing ‘Hospital Data Working Group’ to work on strategies of making hospital data accessible to everyone via an interactive data publishing platform;
  • This group identified that a major obstacle to persons identifying the hospital at which they may get the fastest specialists appointments or where they would wait the longest is the authorities is not making this data available to the public in machine readable formats.
  1. The Social Media group discussed ways of making the activities & benefits of open data known to the wider public. Their primary recommendations are:
  • Open health data (or any sector-specific data) is potentially of interest for everyone in Ireland, but people tend to think about it only when they are personally affected;
  • A media campaign would need to create general attention first, eventually leading to seeking of more detailed information by individuals with specific interest;
  • Information needs to be provided in small, relevant and instantly recognisable pieces for it to lead to more in-depth information requests.

Inspiration from Uruguay

At the end of the productive day we established a virtual bridge with Daniel “Chino” Carranza (@danielcarranza / @DataUY) in Uruguay. Daniel shared’s inspirational story of co-creating a data driven Health Care Dashboard ( which helps people of Uruguay to make an informed choice of health care provider base on data, not marketing. The Ministry of Health of Uruguay published data in Excel spreadsheets over the past 4 years. However, the number of downloads was a meagre 500 cases. By making this same data accessible in an easily comprehensible and actionable format via increased data exposure by over 7,000%! Taking the time to help the public understand the context of the data makes it active data.
With the information was published through the dashboard, the government of Uruguay started a quality of healthcare discussion, and for the first time based on data, not on opinion and marketing.   For more information: Health Data Maker Party on Storify: link Photos on Flickr: link Opening remarks: link Daniel “Chino” Carranza’s slide-deck (link); video (link); full (rough) transcript of the call (link) Hospital Waiting List project page (link) Acknowledgements: Many thanks to everyone who participated in this workshop in person and virtually: Margaret Furr, Richard Geoghegan, Martin Kelly, Ruta Danyte, Robert Harte, Pamela Duncan, Salua Nassabay, Roslyn Fuller, Flora Fleischer, Dave Corley, Shawn Day, Daniel “Chino” Carranza, Dan Alexandru Bujoreanu, Eugene Eichelberger, Caroline Lewis, Ingo Keck, Brian Costello, Eoin MacCuirc, Steve White  and Denis Parfenov Special thanks to newly openned for hosting the event and to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform ( for sponsoring the venue and providing tasty sandwiches and healthy refreshments.  

Hospital Waiting Lists: Making National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) Data Available in 21st Century format

- May 11, 2015 in Adrian Corcoran, Denis Parfenov, hospital, Hospital Waiting List, NTPF, Open Data, Open Data Ireland, Press Release

Open Knowledge Ireland Calls for Hospital Waiting List “Open Data”

- April 27, 2015 in Adrian Corcoran, Denis Parfenov, healthcare, hospital, Leo, Leo Vradkar, NTPF, Open Data Ireland, Press Release, Vradkar, waiting list

*** Improve long term planning and increase effectiveness of governance.***

Monday, April 27th 2015: Open Knowledge Ireland today called on Health Minister, Leo Vradkar, to support the efforts of the Open Knowledge Community to increase the usefulness of publicly available Health Sector Data, by ensuring its publication in an open data format. The National Treatment Purchase Fund currently publishes its Out-Patient Waiting list and In-patient/Day Case Waiting list reports in PDF format which makes them impossible to access automatically thus limiting their usefulness. Over the past few months Open Knowledge Ireland has scraped the data from these NTPF lists and created a dataset of easily accessible information. The datasets are available here and clearly show that the longest waiting lists are in the areas of Otolaryngology, Orthopaedics, Opthamology and General Surgery. Open Knowledge Ireland believes that if the NTPF begins publishing datasets in an accessible way, then this can act as a catalyst to encourage other agencies to make their publicly available data open.  Adrian Corcoran (Open Knowledge Ireland), commented: ‘We would like to replicate the NTPF pilot by building a network of “projects” which each tackle a specific area of publically available healthcare data and then ensure that these islands of data can be crosslinked for increased transparency.’ This requires a twined approach:
  1. Track 1 – Publish publicly available Health data in an open data format (Health Minister, Leo Vradkar)
  2. Track 2 – Develop prototypes to help visualise this information, with a particular emphasis on linking across datasets (Open Knowledge, Volunteers)
Open Knowledge Ireland’s Denis Parfenov, commented: ‘In May, the government will relaunch the data portal which is the ideal opportunity to include hospital waiting lists in Ireland’s open data. We’re calling on Minister Vradkar to introduce open data of hospital lists as a matter of urgency, which in itself may not directly reduce waiting lists, but it will increase transparency which can lead to prioritisation of funding to improve access to health; this is surely one of the most basic but important needs of all citizens.Ends For further information: Denis Parfenov, Ambassador of Open Knowledge for Ireland, 086 385 0044 Adrian Corcoran, Project Director, Open Knowledge Ireland, 087 680 3873 Rachel Power, Public Relations Executive, 087 933 1154 Project URL: Note for Editor: Open Knowledge Ireland ( is part of the global Open Knowledge non-profit network. OK are people passionate about openness, and using advocacy, technology and training to unlock data to enable people to create, manage and share knowledge. The Open Knowledge ( is a non-profit organisation founded in 2004 and dedicated to promoting open data and open content in all their forms – including government data, publicly funded research and public domain cultural content.

Open Letter Regarding Open Data in Ireland

- February 17, 2015 in Denis Parfenov, DPER, Events, INKEx, insight, OGP Ireland, Open Data, Open Data Ireland, Open Knowledge Ireland, William Beausang

(Originally published here in response on invitation to meet with Department of Public Expenditure and Reform dated 12 February 2015)

< p class="c1">

Dear William -

Thank you for your email. Let’s look….

What we have

There are numerous publicly funded data research institutions.

“…INSIGHT [DERI, CLARITY, CLIQUE, 4C, TRIL]  represent an investment in excess of 150,000,000 over the past 10 years, hosting more than 300 researchers, and collaborating with more than 150 industry partners….””…. to create a healthier, safer, more productive world by empowering a data-driven society to enable better decisions by individuals, communities, business and governments…” (here)

Taking into consideration a generous investment of public and private money into data excellence in Ireland, we should be leading in the open data world, right?

Where we are?

Lets have a quick look where is Ireland positioned in the world of open data:

There is hardly any improvement since 2013.

According to both surveys, the UK is the world leader in open data. Peculiarly, Ireland has  pledged at United Nations Assembly last year  “to share best practice, knowledge and expertise with its Northern Ireland counterparts and assist each other in relation to Open Data.” (here)

It’s good that Ireland has a CKAN-driven It’s not good that it’s “alfa” since May 2014 and technically speaking hosts no open data.

Talking open data, practicing open washing 

It was great to see Minister Howlin of D/PER launching an open data initiative in London in 2013. It was very disappointing to see the Department of Communications excluding any open alternatives for one of the most valuable dataset: postcodes (Eircode) were excluded from bidding process by error .

“Open Data Ireland: Best Practice Handbook” (July 2014) compiled by Deirdre Lee, Richard Cyganiak, Stefan Decker states “The current Irish PSI license is not considered an Open License, as it places a number of restrictions on re-use and distribution that go beyond the requirements of attribution and share-alike.” Other than your consultant’s change of mind on what is or is not “open data” it is not clear what has changed since then re PSI licensing in the last 6 month. ‘Open washing’, is the term for calling open data what is NOT open data (yet).

Even within your own department, the “Reform Unit” is talking positively about theoretical aspects of open data. When it comes to practice, another unit within your department, is supporting The Irish Nonprofits Project Limited (formerly  INKEx), an organisation which receives public funds to build a privately-held database with an intention to sell it back to the state, relaunched.

Open data and community

I clearly recall the moment when in February 2012, after following ‘open data’ across the world, I came across ‘A Briefing paper’ (here), which was co-authored by D/PER’s current Open Data consultant, Deirdre Lee, with other industry representatives. What struck me then was that, unlike any other open data policy document, the Irish one didn’t contain a single mention of the social benefits of open data for civil society.

Taking this into consideration we (Open Knowledge Ireland) undertook a challenge to progress open data in Ireland by catalyzing interest around it. As you remember, in September 2012, Oireachtas cut the XML feed to, the biggest open government data publisher in Ireland. The open data community started to organise regular ‘Open Data Ireland’ meetups.

The idea of of open data meetups was to generate demand for open data through education and collaboration between data holders and data users (under assumption that passion is a stronger motivator than profit). All our events were organised in the evening time or at weekends, in order to accommodate enthusiasts and increase a pool of people who knows more about open data and participate in it’s co-creation.

Prior to our workshop meetup on November 17th, D/PER’s consultant tweeted “It’d be good to discuss how to facilitate broad engagement in #opendataIRL” here.  However the time and date chosen by the consultant is aimed at accommodating those who “work with data”.

We can assume that that the biggest publisher of open data, John Handelaar, based in Cork and Open Street Maps lead in Ireland Dave Corley, based in Galway, do not belong to the consultant’s target group.

The participants of the November 17  workshop discussed 5 projects, which can be turned into real life Irish examples of open data being put in use and we set up a project log here.

However at the follow up meeting with you in D/PER offices, we were informed that the department has a budget for 2015 only for an appointed “consultant”, Deirdre Lee from Derilinx and Deirdre Lee from INSIGHT.

Evidently, D/PER has generous resources for Irish Nonprofits Project Limited / INKEx also…

Taking into consideration that there is a paid “consultant” in place and the fact that none of independent groups cannot compete in tendering processes with quangos which have hundreds of publicly funded researchers at their disposal, our group will not be organising any public engagements in Ireland as long as there is a publicly sponsored consultant.  This is the only logical course.

To summarise, there is still no appreciating for the role of the civic groups in progressing open data in Ireland. There is contradiction between the government’s public commitments and government’s actions.

Thank you for your invitation to meet, but I don’t see any point to participate in creation of an illusion of openness in Ireland.

Best, Denis  

First Irish Charity Data HackDay took place on Saturday July 26th 2014 at Tcube

- September 4, 2014 in Adrian Corcoran, Adrian O’Flynn, Allen Thomas Varghese, charity, Chris Garde, Data, Dave Corley, Denis Parfenov, Flora Fleischer, Grazia D'Aversa, Hackday, Helen Nic Giolla Rua, Ingo Keck, Ireland, Open Knowledge Ireland, Patrick Killalea, Salua Nassabay, Tracey P. Lauriault

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 13.27.58
When: Sat, 26th of July, 2014
Where: TCube kindly hosted the event to support the work done for the Charity sector
Organiser: Open Knowledge Ireland
Who: 13 participants: Dave Corley, Tracey P. Lauriault, Patrick Killalea, Adrian Corcoran, Allen Thomas Varghese, Ingo Keck, Helen Nic Giolla Rua, Adrian O’Flynn, Flora Fleischer, Denis Parfenov, Chris Garde, Grazia D’Aversa, Salua Nassabay
Main Findings from first Irish Charity Data HackDay
  1. No standardised way of tracking income and expenses
  2. Not all charities make income and expense data publicly available on their website
  3. When published, income and expense data is not published in an ‘open’ format
… and here is how it all went down on Saturday 26th July 2014 at Tcube:
The day started with a welcome speech by our conveners and hosts Denis Parfenov and Flora Fleisher of Open Knowledge Ireland.  A short presentation was given by Flora Fleischer. Adrian O’Flynn, our Charities Subject Matter Specialist, and the person who inspired the event, introduced the topic of spending for charities in Ireland. He highlighted recent issues portrayed in the media and explained why it would be useful for the public to be able to compare charities based on their financial reports.  Here is his presentation. Adrian Corcoran, the event’s project manager, provided detailed instructions on how to work together for the day.  He followed this outline (  
Three main datasets were used for the CharityHack:
  1. An overview working document listing basic data about the charities: (
  2. An excel spreadsheet (CharityFinancialDataFinal.xlsx), that includes detailed data for a number of charities, which were initially extracted from the annual reports by Adrian O’Flynn.
  3. A reference document which includes definitions of the codes used in the document above (e.g. expenditure codes)
  Participants were divided into three teams “red”, “green”, “blue”, following the team label of the charities in the overview document.   Participants from each team picked a charity from the overview document.  Adrian Corcoran told us how to label the data, how to quality check the numbers within and how to verify the data with the annual reports. These data were then assembled into one shared document.  Data quality issues were reported and then corrected by Adrian Corcoran.   Any issues were reported during this process and the more serious problems were shelved for later. Once this work was completed, only data that passed data quality processes were included.  
The charity data used for this CharityHack exercise are as follows:
  1. Data were extracted from the annual financial reports of 24 of the largest charities in Ireland (€1Mil+).  NOTE This represents a small sample of the thousands of charities in Ireland.
  2. These are charities known through their public brand awareness for the fiscal year 2012 (see the definition).
  3. ONLY charities where funding represents charitable funds collected voluntarily from the public were selected.  This excludes charities that primarily rely on large institutional funds (e.g., Irish Aid Grants, HSE Grants).
  4. Only charities that have been independently audited and who have published their financial statements on a publicly accessible websites were used.
  5. Only charities who followed the Statement by the Accounting Standards Board on the SORP Accounting and Reporting by Charities: Statement of Recommended Practice were used (Section B: Resources Expended). Not all organizations in Ireland follow this standard. It is only because of this standard that it was possible to derive standardized financial data from the financial statements in the annual reports. The data here reflect resources spent on Governance, Fundraising and Charity.
  6. The list of charities was derived from the survey conducted by the Irish Charity Engagement Monitor (ICEM).
  7. This final dataset was quality checked by the participants at the 2014 Charity Hackday on July 26.
  8. The original dataset was created by Adrian O’Flynn.
  It is a small sample, but this illustrates the power of open data.   The dataset that was generated on the HackDay, and which is being continuously developed, can be found on the  Open Knowledge Ireland website. Finally a first draft of a future website was created, where charity data can be be displayed in an easy to understand fashion. Thanks to Barry Alistair (TCube), Adrian O’Flynn (Charity Subject Matter Expert), Adrian Corcoran (Project Manager), and Denis Parfenov & Flora Fleischer for organising the Charity HackDay. And many thanks to all the participants who lent their time and skills! We could not have made as much progress in one day without you!
Photo report of the day: Pictures are courtesy of Dan Alexandru who kindly joined us on the day to capture all the fantastic work happening! Thanks Dan!