The Prime Minister has announced a radical plan to open up Government data to the public. In a letter sent to all Government departments and his first podcast on transparency, the PM set out ambitious plans to open up data and set challenging deadlines to public bodies for the publication of information on topics including crime, hospital infections and Government spending.
In his letter, the PM said:
“Greater transparency across Government is at the heart of our shared commitment to enable the public to hold politicians and public bodies to account; to reduce the deficit and deliver better value for money in public spending; and to realise significant economic benefits by enabling businesses and non-profit organisations to build innovative applications and websites using public data.”
Key commitments set out in the letter include the publication of all new central Government ICT contracts from July 2010 and the publication of details of all DFID international development projects over £500 from January 2011.
Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude will chair a new Transparency Board, including experts and advocates such as Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Nigel Shadbolt and Tom Steinberg, to drive the agenda across Government. You can read the full details in the PM's letter to departments on transparency.
As Francis Maude says:
“We are pulling back the curtains to let light into the corridors of power. By being open and accountable we can start to win back people’s trust. Openness will not be comfortable for us in government; but it will enable the public to hold our feet to the fire. This way lies better government. Transparency is key to our efficiency drive, and will enable the public to help us to deliver better value for money in public spending.”
The first of these data sets are now live on data.gov.uk:
- Weekly Hospital apportioned counts of MRSA bacteraemia and C. Difficile infections by hospital. Tables include a rolling 12 week period of unsigned off MRSA bacteraemia counts - http://data.gov.uk/dataset/nhs-meticillin-resistant-staphylococcus-aureus-bacteraemia-dataset-weekly and http://data.gov.uk/dataset/nhs-clostridium-difficile-dataset-weekly.
- A list of most of those Senior Civil Servants who have salaries over £150,000 a year, giving their name, job title, grade, and salary level. Salary is the officer's annual pay rate including taxable benefits and allowances, and is given in bands of £5000. For officers with part-time jobs, the threshold is worked out based on their pro rata pay. - http://data.gov.uk/dataset/uk-civil-service-high-earners
The Prime Minister has also asked Ministers to treat requests for data from the public as though they had been made under the forthcoming legal Right to Data, and with a presumption in favour of transparency; and that all published data is licensed for free reuse. Please feel free to take us up on this by requesting more data.
This is just the start of our new drive for transparency and developments on data.gov.uk.