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Public Sector Information re-use: Policy and Practice in Lithuania

Natalija Selskait, specialist Information Systems and Registers Division, Information Society Development Committee under the Government of Republic of Lithuania

The public sector is by far the largest producer, collector and processor of information. Public sector information (PSI) is a valuable source of information which the private sector can use to develop added value products and services. Another benefit is an improved flow of information from the public sector to the citizen. Public sector institutions must be open, transparency and fair in processing applications for the reuse of PSI. A combination of high quality PSI and the latest information and communications technologies is creating a multitude of opportunities in the exploitation of PSI.

In Lithuania, PSI covers a diverse range of useful information which comes from a variety of public sector institutions.  This includes national and local legislation, statistics, meteorological data, tourism information, traffic data, as well as guidance on a variety of issues.  PSI is also a prime content resource with much economic potential.  It is the key for many digital information products, and it could become important raw material for new services and in particular for the wireless Internet.  New information and communications technologies allow us to collect, store, combine, analyse and disseminate information in a much more efficient, effective, user-friendly and inexpensive way.  This creates a promising environment for initiatives that are facilitating open access to PSI in Lithuania.


European Union Directive 2003/98/EC on PSI re-use, adopted by the European Council and Parliament in November 2003 following consultations with Member States offers excellent opportunities for businesses to develop added value products and services on the basis of PSI.  The idea is that throughout the EU, the public sector has huge amounts of data which can be seen as a potentially valuable resource in creating new products, businesses and employment.  The directive defines a framework for accessing public sector data across the EU.  The PSI Directive is a legal instrument at the macroeconomic level which seeks to stimulate the internal market by governing the reuse of public sector documents.  It sets out rules which govern the reuse of documents held by public sector institutions in the member states, as well as the way in which this reuse is to be facilitated.
The Law of the Republic of Lithuania on the Right to Obtain Information from State and Local Government Institutions was enacted in January 2000 and substantially revised in November 2005 (No. X-383, 2005 11 10, in., 2000, No. 10-236, No. 47-1344; 2003, No. 116-5250) to implement 2003/98/EC Directive on PSI re-use.  Lithuanians and people from other EU and EEA member states can receive information from such institutions under the law, which also regulates the activities of public institutions in providing information to individuals quo request it.  The transmission of state register data for use to persons, as provided for in The Law of the Republic of Lithuania on State Registers (No. IX-2371, 2004 07 15, in., 1996, No. 86-2043; 2000, No. 47-1345) is in compliance with the EU Directive.


The Information Asset List can be found online (, and it was created in line with the aforementioned Lithuanian law on the Right of people to obtain information from state and local government institutions.  The list contains data about the information resources of various public institutions in one place so as to facilitate access and use of such data (Figure 1).  The list is administered by the Information Society Development Committee under the Republic of Lithuania (ISDC).


Not all data from registers in Lithuania are provided for a fee, fees are  defined only by laws of the Republic of Lithuania.  Fees which are defined by law are based on marginal costs.  The cost of supply data must not be higher than the cost of administrating the process, taken together with a reasonable return on investments.  The Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania on Regulation of payment amount calculation of data delivery from State Registers and Cadastres (No.739, 2005 06 30, in., 2005, No. 82-3024) establishes the payment amount calculation of data delivery from State Registers and Cadastres. The Competition Council of Lithuania must vet the fees which an institution plans to charge before they are approved by the government.
A draft law on management of state information resources states that public institutions must provide information and data for free, unless the information or data are to be used for commercial purposes.


A survey to assess the demand of businesses and citizens for public sector information reuse and access to such information, i.e. the conditions of the information provision of public institutions, was conducted in October and November 2007 by Baltijos Tyriai, Ltd., at the request of the ISDC.  Figure 2 shows what the researchers learned about demand.
The survey focused on those categories of public sector information which respondents considered to be the most useful.  In the categories that are shown in Figure 2, businesses sought out specific kinds of information, particularly on the basis of their specific area of activity business information (6%), information about taxes (5%), construction permits (4%), labour law (1%), public procurement (1%), EU financing (1%), customs services (1%), municipal decisions (2%), transport schedules (1%), traffic jams (1%), health care (1%), education (1%), etc.
The results also showed that applicants could ask for information from public institutions in all kinds of ways visiting the institution, sending a letter or E-mail, telephoning the institution or sending a fax.
The number of available online information assets of public institutions is different.  On average, 35% of information was online.  74% of overall information the Public Information assets is freely available to be forwarded to the client, while 17% is only available on a Website (Figure 3).

54% of businesses told the researchers that not all public institutions deliver information on the basis of the same conditions.  Some offer less expensive, faster and higher-quality information.  90% of the public institutions, for their part, said that all of them have the same conditions.
52% of public institutions delivered information which could be disseminated to third parties on the basis of licenses`conditions.  56% of institutions, researchers found, have not published requirements for the provision and reuse of information on their Websites.  One-third of institutions published all of the requirements, while 10% published only some of them (Figure 4). 
83% of public institutions charge no fee for the information that they distribute (Figure 5).

Respondents were asked how often they had to pay for information that they had requested.  The results can be seen in

Table 1.  46%  of businesses and 72% of citizens either were never asked for payment



Never had to pay



Usually didnt have to pay



Usually had to pay



Always had to pay



No answer



People were also asked about how they seek out relevant information.  47% of businesses but only 14% of citizens usually seek it on the Websites of public institutions.  46% of businesses and 23% of individuals ring the institution on the phone, 42% of citizens and 34% of businesses visit the relevant institution personally, and 29% of businesses and 6% of citizens conduct a general Internet search.
60% of businesses and 81% of citizens said that they receive information from public institutions directly, or via the postal mail within 20 days, while 22% of the former and 6% of the latter said that it takes longer than that.  The fact is that information must be delivered within 20 days to satisfy the requirements of  Lithuanian Law on the Right to Obtain Information from State and Local Government Institutions.  The vast majority of respondents said that they receive information by E-mail or, if they are licensees, from the relevant Websites far sooner than in 20 days time.
56% of businesses reported obtaining information only for in-house needs, while 40% not only used it themselves, but also delivered it to third parties.  6% of businesses obtained information exclusively for the purpose of delivering it to third parties (Figure 6).
The vast majority of survey respondents said that the quality of information that was received was good (the information was clear, complete, sufficient and actual).  The overall availability of information, however, was not praised to the same extent (Figure 7).  When asked about obstacles, people said that it is difficult to find relevant information on the Internet (36.4% of businesses, 13% of citizens), there is insufficient information (28.4%, 16%), the conditions under which information is delivered are not described on Websites (18.3%, 11.7%), information is not free of charge (17.1%, 8,7%), a license is needed to receive information (11.3%, 3.1), information is available only in Lithuanian and in no other language (3.1%, 3.3%), and unavailability of Internet resources to begin with (21.2% of citizens).
18% of businesses and 5% of citizens reported incidents in which a public institution had refused to deliver information.  Among these, 34% of businesses and 44% of citizens said that no explanation for the refusal was given.
Figure 8 shows recommendations made by businesses and citizens in terms of how the delivery of PSI could be improved.








Two highly successful meetings on the reuse of public sector information were held in Vilnius, the first in 2005, the other in February 2008.  The meetings were organised under the framework of the ePSI plus project funded under the e-Content programme of European Commission and offered an excellent opportunity for people to interact with one another and to discuss various aspects of PSI reuse issues.  The February meeting attracted some 150 participants from a wide range of regulatory institutions, public data holders, private institutions which reuse information, and academic circles.  Presentations were focused, engaging and dealing with many key aspects of PSI reuse.  Among other issues to be covered were regulatory aspects of PSI in Lithuania, as well as the economic and legal consequences of pricing policies.  It was a fruitful meeting which satisfied the goal of informing a broad audience on the effects of the PSI Directive in Lithuania.  More about the meeting can be found on the ISDC Webpage:
It is expected that PSI-related policies will continue to develop in Lithuania this year.  The European Commission is reviewing the PSI Directive this year, and Lithuania will update its laws in accordance with the results of that review.

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