PART THREE

14.
Measuring the Social and Economic Costs and Benefits of Public Sector Information Online: A Review of the Literature and Future Directions

Paul F. Uhlir, Raed M. Sharif, and Tilman Merz


The second day of the workshop was devoted to a discussion of the issues by all of the participants, first in two breakout sessions and then in a combined, plenary format. The two breakout sessions were preceded by a presentation entitled Measuring the Social and Economic Costs and Benefits of Public Sector Information (PSI) Online: A Review of the Literature and Future Directions, which was prepared by Paul F. Uhlir, Raed M. Sharif, and Tilman Merz.1 The topics covered by this presentation included: (1) the benefits of access to and reuse of PSI; (2) government policies; (3) a review of the literature about measuring the PSI reuse market and linking outcomes to access regimes; (4) a critique and challenges of current measurement approaches; (5) suggestions for future directions; and (6) questions for further discussion.


First, access to and reuse of PSI in the online environment has direct and indirect economic and social benefits. By developing new markets online, the information industries help enhance the efficiencies of other industries, and, consequently, individuals are empowered as economic actors. Moreover, performance within the public sector is improved, and innovative research projects are fostered. Making PSI available online benefits society through improved political transparency, enhanced educational and research opportunities, and the support of personal decision-making capabilities.


Second, different governments vary markedly in their policies and approaches to dealing with PSI online. In the United States, access to government information is established by a number of laws, including the 1995 Paperwork Reduction Act, the Sunshine in Government Act, and the Freedom of Information Act. (See the summary of the presentation by Nancy Weiss.) In the European Union, many countries and government institutions use a cost recovery model and limit the reuse of PSI by applying intellectual property protections. At the same time, there is an emphasis on producing higher-quality and less restricted information, following the 2003 PSI Directive. There are also various hybrid models adopted in the EU and other countries.


In determining PSI policy, the best approach is clear: (1) equal treatment and competition; (2) minimizing the transaction costs necessary to obtain PSI; (3) transparency of access conditions and data characteristics through the availability of good metadata; and (4) accountability. Beyond that, PSI policy is governed by a variety of complex interrelations that reflect the scope of public sector activity in information provision, information quality, access and discoverability, and pricing. Which policy is best under these various conditions is less clear and may be context-dependent.



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PART THREE 14. Measuring the Social and Economic Costs and Benefits of Public Sector Information Online: A Review of the Literature and Future Directions Paul F. Uhlir, Raed M. Sharif, and Tilman Merz The second day of the workshop was devoted to a discussion of the issues by all of the participants, first in two breakout sessions and then in a combined, plenary format. The two breakout sessions were preceded by a presentation entitled Measuring the Social and Economic Costs and Benefits of Public Sector Information (PSI) Online: A Review of the Literature and Future Directions, which was prepared by Paul F. Uhlir, Raed M. Sharif, and Tilman Merz.1 The topics covered by this presentation included: (1) the benefits of access to and reuse of PSI; (2) government policies; (3) a review of the literature about measuring the PSI reuse market and linking outcomes to access regimes; (4) a critique and challenges of current measurement approaches; (5) suggestions for future directions; and (6) questions for further discussion. First, access to and reuse of PSI in the online environment has direct and indirect economic and social benefits. By developing new markets online, the information industries help enhance the efficiencies of other industries, and, consequently, individuals are empowered as economic actors. Moreover, performance within the public sector is improved, and innovative research projects are fostered. Making PSI available online benefits society through improved political transparency, enhanced educational and research opportunities, and the support of personal decision-making capabilities. Second, different governments vary markedly in their policies and approaches to dealing with PSI online. In the United States, access to government information is established by a number of laws, including the 1995 Paperwork Reduction Act, the Sunshine in Government Act, and the Freedom of Information Act. (See the summary of the presentation by Nancy Weiss.) In the European Union, many countries and government institutions use a cost recovery model and limit the reuse of PSI by applying intellectual property protections. At the same time, there is an emphasis on producing higher-quality and less restricted information, following the 2003 PSI Directive. There are also various hybrid models adopted in the EU and other countries. In determining PSI policy, the best approach is clear: (1) equal treatment and competition; (2) minimizing the transaction costs necessary to obtain PSI; (3) transparency of access conditions and data characteristics through the availability of good metadata; and (4) accountability. Beyond that, PSI policy is governed by a variety of complex interrelations that reflect the scope of public sector activity in information provision, information quality, access and discoverability, and pricing. Which policy is best under these various conditions is less clear and may be context-dependent. 1 Found at http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/23/42/40170933.ppt 61

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SOCIOECONOMIC EFFECTS OF PSI ON DIGITAL NETWORKS 62 Third, in analyzing open access and cost recovery policies, there have already been a number of studies that have resulted in assessments and empirical measurements. The resulting literature review, which is not comprehensive, is summarized in Table 1. TABLE 1 Assessments of PSI Activities in Chronological Order, 2008-1998 Study Title Author(s) and year Models of Public Sector Information David Newbery, Lionel Bently, and Rufus Provision via Trading Funds2 Pollock. 2008. EcoGeo Project3 Stéphane Roche, et al. 2007. Fair Use in the U.S. Economy: Thomas Rogers and Andrew Szamosszegi. 2007. Economic Contribution of Industries Relying on Fair Use4 The Power of Information: An Ed Mayo and Tom Steinberg. 2007. Independent Review5 The Socio-Economic Impact of the Pilar Garcia Almirall, Montse Moix Bergadà, and Spatial Data Infrastructure of Pau Queraltó Ros. Edited by Max Craglia. 2007; Catalonia6 published 2008. Benefits of the New GPS Civil Signal: Irving Leveson. 2006. The L2C Study7 The Commercial Use of Public Office of Fair Trading, United Kingdom. 2006. Information (CUPI)8 Developing Geographic Information Bastiaan Van Loenen. 2006. Infrastructures: The Role of Information Policies9 Economic Impact of Open Source Rishab Aiyer Ghosh, et al. 2006. Software on Innovation and the 2 Found at http://www.opsi.gov.uk/advice/poi/models-psi-via-trading-funds.pdf 3 Web site: http://ecogeo.scg.ulaval.ca 4 Found at http://www.ccianet.org/artmanager/uploads/1/FairUseStudy-Sep12.pdf 5 Found at http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/media/cabinetoffice/strategy/assets/power_information.pdf 6 Found at http://inspire.jrc.ec.europa.eu/reports/Study_reports/catalonia_impact_study_report.pdf 7 Found at http://www.insidegnss.com/auto/0706%20Benefits.pdf 8 Found at http://www.opsi.gov.uk/advice/poi/oft-cupi.pdf 9 Found at http://repository.tudelft.nl/file/107024/088301

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MEASURING THE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC COSTS OF PSI ONLINE 63 Study Title Author(s) and year Competitiveness of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Sector in the EU10 MEPSIR, Measuring European Public Makx Dekkers, Femke Polman, Robbin te Velde, Sector Information Resources11 and Marc de Vries. 2006. Economic Value of the Nova Scotia Michael Gardner, Robert Fraser, Mike Milloy, Ocean Sector12 and James Frost. 2005. Estimating Economic Benefits from Hauke Kite-Powell. 2005. NOAA PORTS® Information: A Case Study of Tampa Bay13 Estimating the Economic Benefits of Hauke Kite-Powell, Charles Colgan, et al. 2004. Regional Ocean Observing Systems14 The Value of Snow and Snow Richard Adams, Laurie Houston, and Rodney 15 Information Services Weiher. 2004. The Economic Benefit of the BGS Roger Tym and Partners. 2003. (British Geological Survey)16 Borders in Cyberspace: Conflicting Peter Weiss. 2002. Public Sector Information Policies and Their Economic Impacts17 Economic Framework for Don Gunasekera. 2002. Meteorological Service Provision Economic Value of Current and Jeffrey Lazo and Lauraine Chestnut. 2002. Improved Weather Forecasts in the U.S. Household Sector18 10 Found at http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/ict/policy/doc/2006-11-20-flossimpact.pdf 11 Found at http://www.epsiplus.net/reports/mepsir_measuring_european_public_sector_resources_report 12 Found at http://www.mar.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/pande/ecn/ns/e/ns-e.pdf 13 Found at http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/publications/Estimated_Economic_Benefits_from_NOAA_PORTS_report.pdf. 14 Found at http://www.nopp.org/nopp/project-reports/reports/04powell.pdf. 15 Found at http://www.economics.noaa.gov/bibliography/econ-value-snow-final-report.doc 16 Found at http://www.bgs.ac.uk/downloads/start.cfm?id=380 17 Found at http://www.epsiplus.net/reports/borders_in_cyberspace 18 Exec. summary: http://ftp.wmo.int/pages//prog/amp/pwsp/documents/JeffLazo_Household_Value_Study_ExecSumm.pdf

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SOCIOECONOMIC EFFECTS OF PSI ON DIGITAL NETWORKS 64 Study Title Author(s) and year Canadian Geospatial Data Policy Garry Sears. 2001. Study19 Environmental Data (various studies) U.S. National Academy of Sciences. 2001. Prosperity Effects of Different Pricing Dutch Ministry of the Interior. 2001. Models for PSI Economic Effects of Open Access Dutch Federal Geographic Data Committee. Policies for Spatial Data 2000. Economic Framework for the John Zillman and John Freebairn. 2000. Provision of Meteorological Services Commercial Exploitation of Europe’s Pira International Ltd., University of East Anglia, Public Sector Information20 and KnowledgeView Ltd. 2000. The Economic Contribution of OXERA, Oxford Economic Research Associates Ordnance Survey GB [Great Britain]21 Ltd. 1999. The Dissemination of Spatial Data: A Xavier Lopez. 1998. North American-European Comparative Study on the Impact of Government Information Policy Table 2 provides an overview of the data collection and measurement techniques used in these studies. 19 Executive summary: http://www.geoconnections.org/programsCommittees/proCom_policy/keyDocs/KPMG/KPMG_E.pdf 20 Exec. summary: http://www.ekt.gr/cordis/news/eu/2001/01-01-19econtent/econtent_study2.pdf 21 Found at http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/oswebsite/aboutus/reports/oxera/oxera.pdf

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MEASURING THE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC COSTS OF PSI ONLINE 65 TABLE 2 Data Collection and Measurement Techniques Used in Assessments of PSI Activities Data Sources Data Collection Techniques Methodological Methods Approaches Primary sources: Desk research Estimate of overall PSI Market based Industry, market size based on approaches government, Web survey estimates of respondents end users Normative or Online questionnaires Estimate of overall PSI prescriptive Secondary market size based on decision-making sources: Interviews turnover models Mainly government data Review of relevant Self-reporting Descriptive (e.g., GDP, documents, literature behavioral response household and international trends International methods income, comparisons employment, In-depth case studies Contingent payroll, and Social surplus approach valuation method exports) and Focus groups (difference between the industry reports willingness to pay for Conjoint analysis Delphi technique or PSI minus the cost of expert opinion supplying it) Economy-wide analysis Application of Bayesian decision theory Projection, scenario analysis, expert opinion, and team consensus approaches General equilibrium model It should be noted that most of these studies did not explain in detail why a certain technique or approach was used. Collectively, the conclusion was that the economic and equity arguments concerning access to and reuse of PSI are complex and deserve considerably more analysis and policy attention. Thus specific estimates should be looked at with caution. Fourth, in extending this critique to identify ongoing challenges in measuring PSI in the online environment, current methodological approaches have several weakness. The scope of these studies is limited, for example, and more country, regional, and global scale studies, as well as more comparative analyses at the country and regional levels, are

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SOCIOECONOMIC EFFECTS OF PSI ON DIGITAL NETWORKS 66 needed. There are also few longitudinal studies, which are needed in order to make comparisons across countries or over time. Furthermore, the existing studies have often used top-down approaches to determine the values of PSI products, overestimating the true value of PSI to the economy by ignoring the substitutes available in the absence of PSI. In effect, this methodology can only demonstrate the “value that can be linked with PSI” rather than the value of PSI itself (Office of Fair Trading, United Kingdom, 2006 at http://www.oft.gov.uk/shared_oft/reports/consumer_protection/oft861.pdf). Further academic and empirical research is needed to supply what is lacking in these existing studies—in particular, a multidisciplinary or multidimensional approach and a focus on individual reuse of PSI. Future studies should also work on improving reliability by addressing the lack of strong theoretical foundations and robust data collection. For example, the longstanding difficulty of securing the quality data needed to separate PSI-dependent sectors from the rest of the information economy (e.g., in national accounts and industrial or product classifications) remains a problem, complicated even more by the heterogeneity of PSI. Consequently, the economic value of PSI is hard to measure via shares of GDP, as substitutes for PSI-derived products lead to an overestimation of such contributions. Fifth, in suggesting future directions, one worthy goal could be to develop a manual for data collection and analysis of PSI policies. This manual could involve statisticians (e.g., EUROSTAT), national accountants (e.g., from the government finance ministries), and other PSI experts. A similar model was used successfully in 1999 by OECD in cooperation with EUROSTAT to produce a manual on data collection and analysis in the environmental goods and services industry. Other possible goals include creating a digital repository of PSI-related content and promoting and facilitating academic-focused research that is informed by well- established theories and methodologies. Involving young scholars and scientists in this process is essential. Such research also needs to pay special attention to more individual uses of PSI. Finally, the authors proposed several questions as essential for ongoing discussion: 1. What are the commonalities and differences among the various analytical methods identified and presented? 2. What are the most effective metrics or indicators for the assessment of particular kinds of information and policies? What approaches and metrics or indicators can be used to effectively measure the network effects of the use of PSI online? 3. What are the main strengths and weaknesses of these approaches, including such factors as their accuracy, comprehensiveness, relevance, validity, and reliability? 4. What still needs to be learned about applying these methods to the evaluation of public information policies in the online environment? 5. What theoretical frameworks, models, and best practices used in assessing other information products or services can be applied to the assessment of the policies of access to and reuse of digital PSI?

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MEASURING THE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC COSTS OF PSI ONLINE 67 6. What future directions might be pursued for the better study and measurement of access to and reuse of PSI online? 7. What other questions or issues should be raised in this context?

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