Moving from policy to practice: reflections from Tbilisi


Our team traveled to the Open Government Partnership’s Global Summit in Tbilisi with an important message to deliver: it’s time to make user needs the focus of beneficial ownership transparency.

Over two days in the run up to the Summit, we hosted representatives from eight countries, plus global civil society organisations at our workshop From policy to practice: Introducing the Beneficial Ownership Data Standard. Through hands-on exercises and group discussions, we explored the interactions between technology and policy in beneficial ownership implementations.

Our overarching message was that policymakers need to think about user needs early and often in their implementations, because the intended benefits - crime detection and prevention, better markets - will be the result of the actions of users. We demonstrated how the Beneficial Ownership Data Standard, which we at Open Data Services are developing in partnership with Open Ownership, is a powerful tool for serving user needs, and cutting costs to implementers along the way.

Government representatives and policy experts also joined us for the launch of the Beneficial Ownership Transparency (BOT) Network, a peer learning network for implementers of beneficial ownership transparency that are interested in working along open data principles.

Exchanging ideas and best practice

Over the course of these events we touched on issues of data validation, direct and indirect beneficial ownership, data protection and privacy, implementation of beneficial ownership registers, and data collection.

The Standard provides a framework for collecting and publishing beneficial ownership data that integrates all of these issues, meaning that implementers don’t need to recreate the wheel. It also enables resulting data to be interoperable, more easily reused, and higher quality. It has been developed by dozens of experts in company data and standard-setting, with key use cases in mind.

We learned about the policy and economic contexts that are shaping countries’ approaches to collecting beneficial ownership data, which challenge simplistic notions of beneficial ownership and test the scope of the Standard.

By guiding workshop participants through beneficial ownership research and data-mapping activities, we gave attendees a hands-on experience of the difference that well-structured data makes to users.

We hope that participants left feeling better equipped to plan the policies and information systems needed for collecting and sharing good quality beneficial ownership data. And with the introduction of the BOT Network, government implementers now have a platform for sharing their experiences and learning from others.

Did you miss our events? Don’t fret! The slides are available in our resources section:

You’re welcome to make use of them in your own efforts to support beneficial ownership transparency.