Cabinet Office launched a public consultation on Making Open Data Real on 4 August, and this will be closing on 27 October – a week or so left. Here are some quick thoughts from the team about why it is important to respond and the issues at stake.
Why is it important to respond to consultation? Quite simply, this is a critical policy area, where through open data, we unlock the value of information that could help make a difference to the lives of this and the next generation. But Government cannot and should not try and develop policy on its own - we need to hear from as many voices as possible to help us get this right.
What is the consultation trying to achieve? The consultation is less about “tell us what dataset you want from Govt”, but more about “what would help create the right conditions so you can get the data/datasets needed to enhance public service outcomes and productivity, social and economic growth”.
Is this a real consultation? We are aware there are those that say the real consultation is about PDC data policy – by all means feed your views into that via http://discuss.bis.gov.uk/pdc. But be in no doubt, we and data suppliers across government will be looking at the strength of response to the Open Data consultation to judge public appetite for making open data real – a low response rate would suggest there isn’t much external interest, demand or appetite.
What is the best way to respond? We’re finding too that for this consultation (perhaps more than any others), that the people who have a high stake or interest in open data are not necessarily all that familiar with responding to government consultations, or might see the process of responding as rather formal and bureaucratic. Our simple advice is to convey the areas that you think will make the biggest difference to making open data real in UK public services. This may not necessarily be answering every single question in the consultation, but it could be just a 2-3 page free-text submission with your views. This is your chance to get your views across – so please use it.
Single vs group responses. If you are collating a group response, please ensure you indicate how many respondents you are representing and preferably provide their names/organisations as well. This would help us understand whether you are speaking with 10, 50 or 100 voices.
How to respond? One way is to share your comments online to the consultation via www.data.gov.uk/opendataconsultation. Alternatively, you might find it easier to submit your views directly via firstname.lastname@example.org. Or if you decide to publish a blog with your response, we may not pick it up and the best way to tell us about this would be to email it to us.
All responses need to be in by Thursday 27 October – we look forward to hearing from as many of you as possible.
Cabinet Office Transparency Team