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Terms of Reference - Open Data Governance Board


Tá leagan Gaeilge den mhír seo ar fáil anseo.

Open Data Governance Board - Terms of Reference

1. Governance Structure

The Department of Public Expenditure NDP Delivery and Reform leads policy development and implementation activities in respect of Ireland’s Open Data Initiative across the wider Public Service. The Open Data initiative is a key part of the Public Service’s reform activities. It is closely aligned with the Public Service Reform Programme, the eGovernment Strategy, the Civil Service Renewal Plan, the Public Service Data Strategy, the National Data Infrastructure and the proposed Digital Strategy. It is also a core element of Ireland’s Open Government Partnership (OGP) national Action Plan.

To ensure that the Open Data Initiative is underpinned by strong governance structures, an Open Data Governance Board (ODGB) was established in 2015.  

The ODGB is supported by a Secretariat located in the Government Reform Unit in the Department of Public Expenditure NDP Delivery and Reform. 

The following governance structure is in place to support the Open Data Initiative:

  • Open Data Governance Board (ODGB) leads and drives the Open Data Initiative and ensures implementation of the Open Data Strategy 2017- 2022
  • Open Data Unit in the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform supports the ODGB and the Public Bodies Working Group in implementing the Strategy and oversees the operation of the national Open Data Portal.

An Open Data Advisory Group (ODAG) provides technical support to the Open Data Unit and public bodies.  This ensures a coherent and consistent approach to the publication of open data across the public sector.

An Open Data Liaison Officers Network (ODLON) publish their organisations data and are supported with training and technical support by the Open Data Unit.

2.   Responsibilities of the Open Data Governance Board

The Open Data Governance Board (Board) is accountable to the Minister for Public Expenditure NDP Delivery and Reform for the success of the Open Data Initiative.

The responsibilities of the ODGB are:

  • Provide strategic leadership and governance in line with international best practice in the area of Open Data.
  • Oversee and report on the implementation of the national Open Data Strategy 2017-2022 in conjunction with the Department of Public Expenditure NDP Delivery and Reform.  
  • Develop the next Strategic Plan for approval by the Department of Public Expenditure NDP Delivery and Reform.
  • Work with the Open Data Unit to ensure compliance with the new EU Open Data Directive (SI 376/2021).
  • Consider how to improve the capacity and capability of public bodies in implementing Open Data.
  • Explore the possibility of broadening the scope of the initiative over time to include, for example, Open Research Data
  • Consider opportunities to maximise the value of public sector data and information for long-term economic, social and democratic benefits. 
  • Communicate and champion the Open Data Initiative with key stakeholders and engage in outreach and collaboration activities and events to raise awareness of Open Data.
  • Identify and monitor national and international trends to guide and ensure Ireland is at the forefront in its implementation of Open Data.
  • Monitor progress on the achievement of the Initiative.
  • Actively promote the reuse of open data to include running an annual Open Data Engagement Fund over the lifetime of the Open Data Strategy (to 2022).  This will include the appointment of a subcommittee to assess applications.
  • Provide overall guidance and direction to the initiative.


3.   Membership

Members of the ODGB have a range of experience and expertise relevant to the development, promotion, and oversight of the National Open Data Strategy, and will be appointed by the Minister for Public Expenditure NDP Delivery and Reform following a recruitment process conducted by the Department of Public Expenditure NDP Delivery Reform.  Appointments to the Board shall be for an initial period of 2 years with an option to extend the term of engagement at the Minister’s discretion.  Board members will adhere to the Code of Conduct at Appendix 1.

The following table sets out the membership of the Board:


Professional Position

Cianán Clancy

Head of Innovation and Strategy, Independent News and Media, Plc;

Bahareh Heravi

Assistant Professor in Information & Communication Studies, UCD; 

Aoife Sexton  (Chair)

Chief Privacy Officer and Chief of Product Innovation at Trūata

Barry Lowry

Government Chief Information Officer; 

Adegboyega Ojo

Associate Professor (Management & Government Info. Systems), School of Business, Maynooth University. 

Andrew O’Sullivan

CIO, An Garda Síochána;

Joan O'Connor

Non-Executive Director and Consultant

Martin Quigley

Director of Data & Analytics, Pobal; 

Neil O'Hare 

Prof of Health Informatics (UCD) and Group Chief Information Officer for the Ireland East Hospital Group;

Declan Smyth

Senior Statistician, Central Statistics Office

4.   Chair

The Minister may from time to time appoint one member of the Board to act as its Chairperson.

5.   Secretariat

The Secretariat to the ODGB shall be provided by the Open Data Unit in the Department of Public Expenditure NDP Delivery Reform

6.   Communications

All communications relating to the business of the ODGB shall be addressed to the Open Data Unit.

7.   Meetings

The ODGB shall generally meet quarterly but will meet more frequently if required to monitor the progress of the Initiative. All meetings shall be agreed with the Chair and notified by the Secretariat.  Five working days’ notice of a meeting shall be given by the Secretariat.  Every notice shall specify the date, time and place of the meeting and the draft agenda.   Meetings of the ODGB shall be held in the offices of the Department of Public Expenditure NDP Delivery and Reform unless otherwise agreed with the Chair and notified by the Secretariat.

8.   Documents

Documents relating to the business of the meeting will be supplied by the Secretariat. Documents shall normally be circulated five days in advance of a meeting.

9.   Decisions

The ODGB shall normally reach its decisions by consensus. In the event of the ODGB being unable to arrive at a consensus in respect of any matter, a majority decision shall be taken.

10. Minutes

The Secretariat shall ensure that minutes are kept of all meetings. The draft minutes of a meeting will be circulated by the Secretariat to all Board members for comment.  Final Board minutes will be published on the open data portal.  


Appendix 1

Code of Conduct for Members of the Open Data Governance Board

The Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies (2016) requires all State bodies to develop and adopt a “Code of Conduct for Members of the State Bodies” binding on all members of the Board of the State Body. Such a code is required to be approved by the board. Certain matters are specifically required to be included in the code.

While the Open Data Governance Board (“ODGB”) is not a statutory state board it would be useful nonetheless to set out in written form the agreed standards, guiding principles and obligations that inform the conduct of Members of the Board.


The provisions of the Code of Conduct will apply to members of the Board in respect of their duties as members of the Board.

Purpose of this Code of Conduct

  • To establish an agreed set of ethical principles that will govern the manner in which the business of the board will be conducted
  • To promote and maintain trust and confidence both within the board and with stakeholders
  • To prevent the development or acceptance of unethical practices

General Principles

Board members will at all times commit to performing their duties to the highest standards of honesty and integrity. The following principles and requirements govern the conduct of Board members in fulfilling their roles:

1.  Integrity

Board members will:

  • Disclose outside employment/business interests in conflict with or potential conflict with the business of the ODGB
  • Not participate in discussions or decisions where there may be conflicts of interest whether or not such conflicts have previously been disclosed
  • Avoid giving or receiving corporate gifts, hospitality, preferential treatment or benefits which might affect or appear to affect the ability of the donor or recipient to make independent judgment on business transactions
  • Avoid the use of ODGB resources or time for personal gain or for the benefit of persons/organisations unconnected with the ODGB or its activities

2.  Information

Board members should:

  • Support the provision of access by the ODGB to general information relating to ODGB activities in a way that is open and that enhances its accountability to the general public
  • Respect the confidentiality of sensitive information held by ODGB such as commercially sensitive information, personal information and information received in confidence by ODGB
  • Ensure the ODGB complies with relevant statutory provisions (such as GDPR and FOI) relating to access to information

Note: where queries arise in relation to the release of information under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, these are directed to the Freedom of Information Officer of the Department of Public Expenditure NDP Delivery and Reform

3.   Appropriate Confidentiality

Board Members should:

  • Maintain appropriate confidentiality in respect of all information received by virtue of their position.  This will continue to apply after a Board Member’s term has ended.
  • On conclusion of their term Board members should either dispose of or return to Open Data Unit DPENDPDR all material of a confidential nature

4.   Obligations

Board Members should:

  • Ensure regular attendance and active participation at meetings of the Board
  • Use their experience to challenge and critically examine items under discussion by the Board
  • Conform with procedures laid down by the Board in relation to conflict of interest situations including regard to acceptance of positions following appointment to the ODGB that may give rise to the potential for conflicts of interest and to confidentiality concerns
  • Acknowledge the duty of all to conform to the highest standards of business ethics
  • Commit to participate vigorously and energetically but also ethically and honestly

Note: The Principal Officer in charge of the Open Data Unit should ensure that the Board is supplied in a timely fashion with information which is of a suitable quality to enable Board members to satisfactorily discharge their duties.

5.  Loyalty

Board Members should acknowledge their responsibility to be loyal to the ODGB and to be fully committed in all its business activities.

6.  Fairness

Board Members should commit to fairness in all ODGB business dealings

7. External Environment

Board Members should: 

  • Ensure that community concerns are fully considered
  • Minimise any detrimental impact of business on the environment

Concerns of a Board Member

All board members should be circulated with the code of conduct for their retention. Should the Board contemplate a course of action which a Board Member considers would infringe on their requirements of propriety or regularity or does not represent prudent or economic administration or efficiency or effectiveness or value for money s/he should draw the matter to the attention of the Chairperson and the Secretary General of the Department of Public Expenditure NDP Delivery and Reform.

In the event that the concern of the Board member are not addressed, the Board member may request that their concerns are formally recorded in the minutes of a Board meeting.