playing field, and the public sector body was not allowed to use cross-subsidies or tax advantages.

Unfortunately, these guidelines do not apply to lower levels of government, such as municipalities, provinces, or water boards. They only apply to the national public sector, even though most of the original complaints from the private sector did not apply to the national public sector, but rather to the lower levels because they were the ones setting their own charges and license conditions.

So what is happening now? The public sector is not supposed to be producing value-added products, except those entities specifically mandated to do so. This is a very elastic concept, however, and there are no clear boundaries. The national Cadastre, which is covered by its own legislation, is an exception, as it is producing value-added products in direct competition with the private sector. Otherwise, more and more public sector data sets are becoming available for reuse thanks to the PSI directive, although there is still great variety in licensing conditions. I did a quick overview about two years ago, and the licenses of the 20 or so public sector bodies that I looked at ranged from a license that was just one or two paragraphs to a license that was extremely complex. Also, to negotiate a license can demand anything from a click-through license to actually having to go through many weeks of negotiations. The resulting situation is not transparent, and it can be very time consuming.

Among the more attractive data sets are the Authentic Registries.4 The private sector really would like to have these data because they can be used for value adding. The Authentic Registries are still restricted for reuse, and they are not made public. The concept behind the Authentic Registries is that governments should acquire information only once and should reuse it many times, which implies that there should be only one registry for the entire population. There is only one registry for cars, for example, and only one Cadastral registry. All other public sector bodies are to reuse that same registry. If they see any mistakes they are supposed to report them to the responsible body so they can be fixed. The goal is for the registries to be of very high quality. The registries are very valuable for the private sector. Private companies would especially like to have the property value register, which allows one to see how much houses are worth. But the Authentic Registeries are not available for use, let alone reuse.2

Prices of PSI are coming down. It is a major trend. Some of them are coming down because the organizations have decided to make their PSI available for only the cost of dissemination, but many of them are coming down because the prices were too


An authentic register is defined in the Netherlands’ Streamlining Key Data Programme as ‘a high quality database accompanied by explicit guarantees ensuring for its quality assurance that, in view of the entirety of statutoryduties, contains essential and/or frequently-used data pertaining to persons, institutions, issues, activities or occurrences and which is designated by law as the sole officially recognised register of the relevant data to be used by all government agencies and, if possible, by private organisations throughout the entire country, unless important reasons such as the protection of privacy explicitly preclude the use of the register’. Duivenbode, H van & M de Vries. 2003, Upstream! A chronicle of the Streamlining Key Data Programme. The Hague.


At the time of the presentation, legislation related to the Authentic Registries was not finalised. Since then the legislation process has moved forward. It now looks as though reuse of the Authentic Registries will be allowed (i.e., not restricted due to proprietary concerns, or security or privacy legislation). The pricing regime has not been finalised yet, however.

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