Work on Local Spending Data

Work to open up expenditure data from central and local government is gathering pace, and the first movers are working hard to resolve the technical, licensing and other issues involved.

Chris Taggart's blog post this morning highlights several issues which will need to be resolved in making local spending data fully transparent, including licensing.

When the Public Sector Transparency Board met for the first time last week we put out for comment a set of draft principles for publishing open data. One of these is:

"Public data will be released under the same open licence which enables free reuse, including commercial reuse – all data should be under the same easy to understand licence. Data released under the Freedom of Information Act or the new Right to Data should be automatically released under that licence."

We have already reminded those involved of this principle and the existing availability of the ‘’ licence which meets its criteria, and we understand that urgent measures are already taking place to rectify the problems identified by Chris.

It's important that there are clear, consistent and widely understood principles about transparency and openness for public data, so please keep commenting and debating on the principles so we can make them as good and as clear as possible.

Post written by the Public Sector Transparency Board


  1. Comment by CommunitiesandLocalGovernment posted on

    Local Government Minister Bob Neill said:

    "We are working closely with councils to open the books of local government and make open and standardised information available that can be used and republished by everyone, for free, to scrutinise spending and hold politicians to account.

    "Transparency and openness must be the default setting for the way councils do their business and we expect local government to move at speed to adopt this new approach. It's a learning process for many, and we will support councils deliver this exciting and radical change."

  2. Comment by paul_clarke posted on

    This is an extraordinarily rapid response, clear in its appreciation of the problem that Chris has noted, and making a commitment to do something about it. Those who've been involved in the work to release data may, like me, have been taken aback to see this particular 'interpretation' of it pop up. But quick responsiveness does an enormous amount to keep up confidence that these initiatives will continue in the right direction.

    We accepted there would be risks and wrong turnings on this course; this appears on the face of it to have been one of them. And that's fine - as long as we learn from it and move to straighten things out as this response suggests will happen.

    Well handled.

  3. Comment by Anonymous posted on

    My fear is that local government will take the easiest and least painful route. Companies that offer solutions that offer an interpretation of disclosure and openness whilst still allowing control will blossom, unless there is legislation to make them do otherwise. Business is very good at telling local government what it wants to hear and they are under so much stress at the moment the structural change that will bring about openness is not high on the agenda.

  4. Comment by Anonymous posted on

    I've created a list of all the councils publishing spending data with info on open licences and machine readability, the Armchair Auditor Scoreboard.

    There are also links to relevant guidance and where you can get help.

    -- @AdrianShort


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