The last few years have witnessed a large and dynamic change in order to increase the openness of institutions, and this has been accompanied by the increased public interest in certain topics. Macedonian institutions and civil society are becoming more and more aware of the importance of data disclosure, but as more and more people enter this process, so the challenges that institutions face in disclosing data increase. This was emphasized at the panel dedicated to the “Macedonian journey” on the second day of the International Open Data Conference organized by the Metamorphosis Foundation.

Representatives of several state institutions and technical staff employed in the municipalities talked about what they have done so far in terms of technical equipment and transparency of institutions, but also about the challenges they faced during this process.

Marija Petkovska Leses from the General Secretariat of the Government said that the “journey” of the Government with the open data started in 2017, at a time when the institutions were still quite closed, and the administrators were afraid when giving the data.

Petkovska Leses emphasized that one of the most important missions of the “Open Government” service and the opening of data was a responsible and transparent government with policies and practices fully committed to the citizens. She added that with the “Open Government” a media environment was created with freedom of expression where access to information is provided, and the institutions were obliged to publish data for citizens to have insight into their work. In addition, she added that all information was declassified except those that refer to the security of the state.

“I believe that with this process we have encompassed the complete power at all levels, and certain municipalities have joined this initiative. With this, for the first time in the political history of the Republic of North Macedonia, the Government on its own initiative made its work visible to the citizens and for the first time the public was given the opportunity to monitor the spending of citizens’ funds by officials,” said Petkovska Leses from the General Secretariat.

She added that they are aware that open data can be a strong impetus for social and economic development.

“Opening the data contributes to increasing the transparency and accountability of institutions, improving the quality of services they offer and leaves room for business opportunities to revive, which will contribute to the development of Macedonian society and our overall economy, as well as the fight against corruption,” Said Petkovska Leses.

Goran Davidovski from the Public Procurement Bureau said that this institution has been publishing public procurement notices and data on concluded contracts for 12 years now and since 2018 public procurement is fully conducted electronically, with all communication between state institutions and the private sector taking place through an electronic system.


“Last year, together with Metamorphosis, we started working on opening our data in the true sense of the word and in CSV format we took out the data sets that refer to our institution – budget, staff, list of all contracting authorities at the national level, procurement related to the Covid pandemic, as well as our public procurement plan,” Davidovski said.

He stressed that he hopes that their effort by opening the data will be beneficial and that the entire database is already available to the public.

Open data are not data that the institution provides only to the public, but that has value for the institution itself. In recent years, there has been a great change in order to increase the openness of government institutions, said the panel Viktor Mitevski, an expert on open finance.

“We were used to living in a closed society. We neither thought about nor had any interest in seeking data. The process of changing that culture is long and laborious and needs all stakeholders to need to invest in it,” Mitevski said.

He added that the administrative culture and the way the data is viewed should be changed.

“The public stigma is that we have an administration that is not interested in working and sharing data and it keeps it to itself. But if we have a functional system that will give a real chance and opportunity to open data, we will all be on the same line when it comes to viewing data and working with data,” Mitevski added.

In this whole process, the digitalization of the entire open data system is also important because it can facilitate the processes of data collection, sharing and processing.

“If there is one thing we have learned from Covid, it is that there is no reason not to support the digitalization of our society. Appropriate IT staff is needed, this problem is faced by all the surrounding countries that go through this process, not only us. We should roll up our sleeves and not just say that we need to attract staff in the IT sector, but take appropriate steps to do so because the staff that still exists in the structure will disappear,” said Mitevski.

The Open Finance portal was cited as an example of transparent work that imposes an open data culture.

The difference between the opening of the data by the institutions of the central government and the local self-government, i.e. the municipalities was emphasized at the event. Marija Kitanska, an expert on open finance, said that in the work of the project with Metamorphosis she noticed the recognition of the importance of open finance by the municipalities.

“In a way, municipalities have more homework in terms of data processing and the way they see the projects they want to move forward with. They are proactive in tackling challenges or problems. With the way they work, they want the data they have made fully visible. Municipalities see this open data as a feature,” Kitanska said.

As one of the challenges faced by the municipalities, Kitanska mentioned the portal of the Ministry of Information Society and Administration (MISA).

“Realistically, if we are striving for open data to be available in real-time and if we have data that is updated every 3 or 6 months or a year, I think that the portal itself, which will be the central place where this data is published, should be more responsive,” Kitsanska said.

Representatives of some of the most successful municipalities in terms of data opening – Valandovo and Demir Hisar – also addressed the panel “Macedonian Road” at the International Conference on Open Data.

Vladimir Lazov who works as an IT administrator in the Municipality of Valandovo said that open data is one of the navigators that increase the openness and transparency of an institution and that the process of opening data has been a great challenge in recent years.


“In 2018, we were ranked 83rd for active transparency of websites and we were last in the region among ten municipalities in the East Planning Region. According to the same research, last year we were ranked 5th in the country in terms of transparency, ahead of two municipalities and two ministries. We are the first in the East Planning Region,” Lazov said.

He added that the next goal is for Valandovo to become a 100 percent transparent municipality. As the biggest challenges in the process of opening the data, Lazov pointed out the technical readiness of the institutions and the employees in the institutions, as well as the lack of staff who wants to learn. In addition, Lazov added that the problem is the salary in public administration, which is not attractive enough for IT people, who because of this end up in the private or non-government sector.

As part of the second day of the conference, Nathan Coyle, director of New Union, held the “Roadmap to Open Data” training. In the afternoon, Cedric Lombion held a presentation on “Rethinking trainings and capacity building” from the Open Knowledge Foundation.