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Open Rules

Central repository for rules

While the legislation and regulations are fully publicly accessible at, and more and more government data is also becoming available for public reuse via, the rules used by the government are hardly transparent or publicly accessible. In order to be able to explain and control the decisions of the government, it is necessary to be able to follow the generation of laws and regulations to the presentation in rules, and to data and systems.

A number of governments are working to publish the rules they now use internally to develop and manage systems. Several municipalities are already publishing their rules or are planning to do so.

It is useful if government authorities not only publish their rules themselves, but also make them centrally findable and coordinate which concepts and structures are used in the rules. Ideally, there will be a central repository where these rules can be searched. A location comparable to for legislation or for data sources of the government.

First overview

Rules are a diffuse concept. There are no clear indications of how a rule should be prepared so that you can check whether a rule is correct. These indications do exist for legislation and regulations, for example. Rules are also not computer code that can be controlled by a machine. It is therefore difficult to validate whether a rule is "correct" for governments, but even more so for citizens and companies.

Making all rules centrally findable in any case provides insight into which rules there are, who owns them and for what purpose and for which legislation and regulations they are used. This overview will confirm that rules are different in many aspects. Only publication offers the opportunity to establish this and to work together on harmonized rules and a shared approach and methodology for drafting rules.

More application for rules

The application possibilities of published rules are broader than just creating transparency. It is also interesting to make rules for draft legislation with which the impact of a proposal can be analyzed by, for example, the Houses and citizens and entrepreneurs themselves. Because you can do simulations with new legislation and in this way test feasibility for citizens and workability for the government itself.

Human service

Norms in legislation and regulations cannot always be objectified in terms of parameters. If you draw up rules and you find that certain norms and values cannot be objectified, manual treatment is necessary to do justice to specific cases. Feedback from this manual handling may lead to a change in law that will be reflected in a new version of the rules.

Publication of policies and algorithms

There are already a few initiatives that provide insight into which smart applications governments use and how they work. For example, the municipality of Amsterdam is developing an in which the functioning of several systems for supporting the implementation is explained to its citizens. The operation of the automatic parking control creates transparency in the data sources used, how they are combined and how human supervision is arranged on the system.

Some governments publish - voluntarily because not required by law - their implementation policy as publicly accessible information. For example, the Social Insurance Bank (SVB) has been doing this for years on in the form of policy documents with work instructions and references to the higher-level legislation and regulations.