Implementing the transparency agenda: Public Accounts Committee - Tenth Report
The published report was ordered by the House of Commons to be printed 16 July 2012. Prepared 1 August 2012. Conclusions and recommendations:
1. The Government has set public accountability, service improvement and economic growth objectives for its transparency agenda, but it is not clear that the data released will enable government to meet those objectives.
2. The presentation of much government data is poor.
3. In some sectors different provider types are subject to different transparency requirements, and this undermines the comparability of data for users.
4. Government does not understand the costs and benefits of its transparency agenda.
5. The Government has not got a clear evidence based policy on whether or not to charge for data.
6. We are concerned that 'commercial confidentiality' may be used as an inappropriate reason for non-disclosure of data.
7. Departments do not make it easy for users to understand the full range of information available to them.
8. There is a risk that those without internet access will not gain the full benefits of more open public data...
Further information on Implementing the transparency agenda: Public Accounts Committee - Tenth Report
Last updated: 2 August 2012
Committee publishes report on implementing the transparency agenda
Public Accounts Committee, 1 August 2012. "The Commons Public Accounts Committee publishes its 10th Report of Session 2012-13, 'Implementing the Transparency Agenda,' as HC 102 on Wednesday 1 August...
Poor or incomplete data hinders the ability of users to exercise effective choice, for example on care providers. It also undermines the ability of service deliverers and policy makers to focus on improving quality.
The Government has not yet developed a full understanding of costs and benefits of making information transparent, and so decisions on what data to make available and in what form are not yet guided by value for money considerations. The Cabinet Office told us that the Open Data Institute will establish a fuller evidence base on the economic and public service benefits of open data. It is important that Government evaluates progress against the full range of objectives it has set for transparency, looking for unintended as well as planned effects.
The push for release of more data has also thrown up new challenges which departments need to meet, facilitated by strong leadership from the Cabinet Office. These include questions on how to sustain interest in data after the initial launch (for example crime maps), how to ensure sufficient disclosure of information by private firms delivering government contracts, vigilance over protecting personal privacy, and how the benefits of data disclosure can be realised by those without internet access. How departments respond to these challenges will go a long way to supporting the success of the transparency agenda. On the risk to personal privacy, the Cabinet Office assured us that it would set out policies and controls adequate to protect privacy in its White Paper..."
Government data lacks transparency, says committee
Public Accounts Committee says it's not enough to 'dump large quantities of raw data into the public domain', by Gill Hitchcock. Guardian Professional, Wednesday 1 August 2012. "The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has said that too much government data is poorly presented and difficult for outsiders to interpret.
Four out of five people who visit the data.gov.uk website leave it immediately without accessing links to data, says the parliamentary watchdog in its report on implementing the government's transparency agenda..."
Open data must do more for businesses, report finds
By Tom Espiner. ZDNet, August 1, 2012. "Summary: Online businesses and developers are being hindered in making open-data products and services due to poor quality information being presented, according to the UK Public Accounts Committee. Poor-quality public data is hindering businesses trying to build open-data products and services, according to an influential group of MPs..."
Open government is here to stay, like it or not
The Government should be putting more, not less, material into the public domain. The Telegraph, 31 July 2012. "David Cameron’s commitment to open government was unambiguous when he was in Opposition. He said he wanted to head the most transparent government in the world, and talked of making public all official information unless there was a specific reason to keep it secret. This was encouraging. It suggested that the momentum created by the last government’s Freedom of Information Act (FOI) would be maintained.."
Thanks for all this data, UK.gov, but what on Earth does it mean?
MPs want more than just large dumps of numbers, By Gavin Clarke. Posted in Government, The Register, 2nd August 2012. "The coalition government needs to work harder if it's to convince the public that shovelling out spades of raw data will make it an open and transparent administration, MPs have said.
The Commons Public Accounts Committee has drawn up a report called Implementing the Transparency Agenda, which welcomed Number 10's Open Data Initiative, and said many of its objectives have been met..."
The big debate: open data
From education to policing, from health to councils – public leaders tell us how they are tackling the challenge of making information available to citizens, by Mark Smith. Guardian Professional, Monday 20 August 2012. "The Commons public accounts committee recently slammed the government's open data policy for releasing too much unintelligible raw data. But releasing more government data is a cornerstone of government policy.
The open data white paper, published in June, states: "From the prime minister down, central government is committed to making open data an effective engine of economic growth, social wellbeing, political accountability and public service improvement."
How is this being translated across different public services? We asked public leaders how they are tackling the challenges, and reaping the potential benefits, of making more information available..."